U.S. State Department Calls on China to Free Missing Bookseller

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On Saturday, January 27, the U.S. State Department called on Chinese authorities to free Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish national and bookseller associated with Mighty Current publishing house, according to media reports. Gui was abducted by Chinese agents while traveling by train to Beijing for medical treatment. Last week, the American Booksellers Association sent a letter to the State Department urging it to investigate the abduction and disappearance of Gui.

“We are deeply concerned that Swedish citizen Gui Minhai was detained on January 20,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement. “We call on Chinese authorities to explain the reasons and legal basis for Mr. Gui’s arrest and detention, disclose his whereabouts, and allow him freedom of movement and the freedom to leave China. The United States and our European partners are bound by shared principles of liberty, equality, and human dignity. We will continue to coordinate with our partners, allies and regional organizations on promoting greater respect for human rights in China.”

On January 20, Gui was traveling by train to Beijing with two Swedish diplomats when plainclothes police officers boarded the train and took Gui away, according to the New York Times. It was the second time Chinese authorities had spirited the bookseller away. In 2015, Gui was one of five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared and then resurfaced in China in police custody, the Times article noted. 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.

Gui was eventually released last October. He was abducted on January 20 after being suspected of sharing secret information with Swedish diplomats and for meeting the diplomats illegally, the Times article noted.