Chinese Authorities Confirm the Arrest of Bookseller Gui Minhai

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On Tuesday, February 6, the Chinese government confirmed that it had arrested Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish national and bookseller associated with Mighty Current publishing house, according to media reports.

Both the U.S. State Department and the government of Sweden have condemned Gui’s detention by Chinese authorities. At the time of his arrest, Gui was traveling by train with two Swedish diplomats from the Chinese coastal city of Ningbo to Beijing. Gui’s daughter, Angela Gui, has said that doctors in Ningbo believed her father may have the neurological disease ALS, and that he had been on his way to Beijing to see a Swedish medical specialist, as reported by South China Morning Post.

"Because of the violation of Chinese laws, the relevant Chinese authorities have taken criminal compulsory measures against Gui Minhai," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, as reported by Sweden’s The Local.

On January 27, the U.S. State Department called on Chinese authorities to free Gui. The week before, the American Booksellers Association sent a letter to the State Department urging it to investigate the abduction and disappearance of Gui.

The government of Sweden has also condemned Gui’s detention. “The brutal intervention in January against a Swedish support operation was conducted in spite of repeated assurances from the Chinese authorities that Mr. Gui was free at that time,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in a statement. “China’s actions were in contravention of basic international rules on consular support. The current situation also raises questions about the application of the rule of law, including the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. We demand that our citizen be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff, and that he be released so that he can be reunited with his daughter and family.”

The January 20 arrest was the second time Chinese authorities had abducted the bookseller. In October 2015, Gui was one of five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared and then resurfaced in China in police custody. Gui was held in custody for two years and was accused by Chinese state news media outlets of publishing books that demeaned Communist Party leaders. He was released from Chinese custody last October, and since then had reportedly been living in the Chinese city of Ningbo.