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‘Missing’ bookseller back in Hong Kong: government

AFP-JIJI

One of five “missing” Hong Kong booksellers who was detained on the mainland returned to the city Friday and met police, the government said, in a case that has provoked fears of increasing Chinese interference in the semiautonomous region.

Lui Por, who has been missing since last October, was among three of the booksellers who Hong Kong police said earlier this week would be released on bail.

“Police met with Lui Por, who returned to Hong Kong from the mainland, this morning,” a brief government statement released late Friday said.

“Lui requested to have his missing persons case closed and expressed that there was no need for assistance from the Hong Kong government or police,” it said, adding he refused to provide any more information.

Hong Kong police had said that Lui and his counterparts, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, would all be released on bail.

The five booksellers from Hong Kong’s Mighty Current publishing house, known for its salacious titles critical of Beijing, went missing last year, only to turn up in mainland China.

One who apparently disappeared from Hong Kong, Lee Bo, appeared on television on Monday and insisted that he had not been abducted by mainland authorities.

In the Phoenix TV interview, Lee said he had “resorted to illegal immigration” to get to the mainland as he did not want to draw attention to his visit.

The other four booksellers, who are under criminal investigation on the mainland, also appeared on Phoenix Sunday admitting to smuggling illicit books into China in somber, sometimes tearful, interviews.

In their first appearance since they were detained, fellow booksellers Cheung Chi-ping, Lui Por and Lam Wing-kee blamed the company’s illegal book trade on colleague Gui Minhai in their interviews.

Gui, a Swedish citizen, confessed he had “explored ways to circumvent official inspections in China,” in his television interview Sunday.

The case has heightened fears of increasing mainland Chinese interference in Hong Kong and sparked international condemnation.