Intimidation fears in missing booksellers' case

2016-01-05 13:32
(Vincent Yu, AP)

(Vincent Yu, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Hong Kong - The wife of a missing Hong Kong bookseller feared detained by Chinese authorities has retracted her report to police on his disappearance in a move Amnesty said smacked of "intimidation" tactics by China.

It comes after a letter purportedly faxed to a colleague by the missing bookseller, Lee Bo, said he was well and had reached the mainland using his own means.

Enjoys freedom

Lee, 65, is one of five missing men who all worked for Hong Kong-based publishing house Mighty Current, known for books critical of China.

The disappearances have sparked fury from lawmakers and activists, adding to growing unease that freedom in the semi-autonomous city are being eroded.

Under its mini-constitution, Hong Kong enjoys freedom of speech and Chinese law enforcers have no right to operate in the city.

Police said on Tuesday: "The informant told police to cancel the case report on Monday," referring to Lee's wife, Sophie Choi, who reported him missing after he failed to turn up at home for dinner last week.

The statement said police continued to investigate the case.

Amnesty said it was common for Chinese authorities to put pressure on those close to the detainees.

"One wonders whether the same sort of intimidation is being used against associates and friends (of the publishers)," said Amnesty International's China researcher William Nee.

Choi's withdrawal came after Lee contacted a colleague, in a faxed letter published by Taiwan's Central News Agency.

"Because I had to handle an urgent matter and can't let outsiders know, I went to the mainland in my own way," Lee said in the handwritten message, adding "all is normal".

He said he was "assisting an investigation" but did not elaborate.

Lee's wife has previously said he had called her from a number in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen after he had gone missing.

Nee said the letter "defies belief" as Hong Kong has stringent border-crossing systems.

Human Rights Watch questioned how Lee could have crossed the border with no trace.

Investigating case

"The Hong Kong government needs to handle this case with transparency," said China researcher Maya Wang.

Police are also investigating the disappearances of three other missing employees who were Hong Kong residents.

The fifth is a Swedish national, with embassies in Beijing and Bangkok investigating his case.

In a regular briefing on Tuesday, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, said: "I am not aware of the situation," when asked about the missing booksellers.

Democratic legislator Albert Ho said over the weekend he believed the men had been kidnapped by Chinese security officers.

Read more on:    amnesty international  |  human rights watch  |  hong kong

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


And our winner of our second case of Amstel Beer is...

We have decided to award another voter with a prize for voting for their favourite picture.


You won't want to miss...

6 myths about male cancer
Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.