Sweden demands China release bookseller Gui Minhai: Minister

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde yesterday demanded that the Chinese-Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai be released after he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in China.

“We have always been clear that we demand that Gui Minhai is released in order to reunite with his daughter and family. That demand remains,” Linde said in a statement.

Gui, one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who fell foul of the authorities for selling critical works on top Chinese leaders, was snatched while on a train to Beijing in February 2018, the second time he disappeared into Chinese custody.

A court in the eastern city of Ningbo said Gui was convicted on Monday on charges of illegally providing intelligence abroad.

The court also said that he had his Chinese citizenship reinstated in 2018 but it was not immediately clear if he had given up his Swedish nationality. Gui first vanished in 2015 while on holiday in Thailand and eventually surfaced at an undisclosed location in China, confessing to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books.

His supporters and family have claimed his detainment is part of a political repression campaign orchestrated by Chinese authorities.

Relations between Sweden and China have been strained for several years over Beijing’s detention of Minhai, and Sweden has repeatedly called for his release.

Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou in November threatened “counter-measures” after Sweden’s culture minister awarded a rights prize to Gui Minhai.

Two Chinese business delegations to Stockholm were subsequently cancelled.

A picture of missing bookseller Gui Minhai is shown on a placard during a protest. PHOTO: AP