Swedish bookseller held in China surfaces in confession video

SHANGHAI • Detained book publisher Gui Minhai has surfaced nearly three weeks after disappearing into police custody in China, confessing wrongdoing and accusing his adopted country Sweden of manipulating him like a "chess piece".

It was unclear whether Gui's statement was made under duress, but video of his confession shows him flanked by two police officers, and a close friend said the remarks were "not to be believed."

The Chinese-born Gui, 53, was arrested on a train to Beijing last month while travelling with two Swedish diplomats - the second time he has vanished into Chinese custody in murky circumstances.

Sweden, the European Union and the United States have called for his release, with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Monday calling his seizure "brutal".

But Gui accused Sweden of "sensationalising" his case. "I have stated that I do not want Sweden to continue to sensationalise what has happened to me. But obviously, Sweden has not stopped doing so," he said in the video. "I felt that it was necessary for me to come out and say something."

The video emerged from an "interview" set up on Friday with handpicked Chinese media, according to their reports.

Gui was travelling by train to Beijing from the eastern China city of Ningbo, where doctors had said he may have the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was to see a Swedish specialist in the capital but was arrested aboard the train.

Gui said on Friday that Swedish officials had pressured him to leave China despite being barred from doing so due to pending legal cases. "I have declined a few times. But because they were instigating me non-stop, I fell for it," said Gui.

"Looking back, I might have become Sweden's chess piece. I broke the law again under their instigation. My wonderful life has been ruined and I would never trust the Swedish ever again."

Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders who disappeared in 2015 and resurfaced in China.

Gui was on holiday in Thailand at the time. He eventually re-emerged at an undisclosed Chinese location, confessing to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books into mainland China.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 11, 2018, with the headline 'Swedish bookseller held in China surfaces in confession video'. Print Edition | Subscribe