China: Missing HK book publisher confesses to hit-and-run

AP News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2016 12:16 PM

BEIJING (AP) — A Hong Kong book publisher whose disappearance sparked international interest voluntarily surrendered months ago to Chinese mainland authorities, state media said Sunday.

Gui Minhai is one of five missing people who are associated with the publisher Mighty Current, which specializes in gossipy books on political scandals involving China's Communist leaders and other sensitive topics that are banned in the mainland.

Their disappearances raised concerns Beijing is eroding the "one country, two systems" principle that has preserved freedom of the press and other rights in Hong Kong since China gained control of the city from Britain in 1997.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Gui said while in detention that he surrendered in October, 10 years after he fled China after killing a woman while driving drunk. The report did not say if he was facing trial nor did it address the other disappearances.

Gui's friends have suspected he was abducted for political reasons by Chinese agents from his apartment in Pattaya, Thailand, and smuggled into China. He is a naturalized Swedish citizen, and his disappearance prompted questions from the Swedish Embassy.

In the purported confession, Gui said he did not want any more "malicious media hype" over his case or any further assistance from Sweden.

Earlier this month, a letter surfaced in which one of the men, British citizen Lee Bo, said he went to mainland China to assist an unspecified investigation. His wife then dropped a missing persons report on him, saying she believed he went to China voluntarily.

In recent years China has stepped up its efforts to repatriate overseas fugitives, mostly Communist Party officials wanted on corruption charges. But its increasingly bold overseas operations have alarmed governments including the Australia and the United States.