Hong Kong, Feb 5 (IANS) Three Hong Kong booksellers who were reported missing since October 2015, part of a group of five who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, are being held in China, accused of “illegal activities”.
The Public security Department of Guangdong province in southern China, bordering Hong Kong, confirmed this in a letter on Thursday, EFE news reported on Friday.
The letter explains that the three booksellers — Lui Por, Cheung Chi Ping, and Lam Ala Kee — were suspects in a case relating to a person surnamed Gui, and that the police have decided to take measures against them while investigation is underway.
Lui Por, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee are employees and editors of the Hong Kong-based bookstore, Causeway Bay Books, and publishing house, Mighty Current, which sells and publishes books critical of the Chinese communist regime.
The notification sent by China also includes a letter by Lee Bo, another bookseller who also surfaced in mainland China under unknown circumstances.
Hong Kong authorities were investigating how Lee Bo reached the Chinese mainland without a corresponding entry of his cross-border passage in official immigration records, when his wife had reported him missing on January 2.
After the Chinese police confirmed the whereabouts of the missing booksellers, Hong Kong police had asked to participate in follow-up investigations involving Lui Por, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, and insisted on meeting Lee Bo as soon as possible.
The current confirmation raises suspicions that all the five editors were being held prisoner or taken to China against their will.
Meanwhile, Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong resident, who holds a Swedish passport and the first of the five booksellers who disappeared in October, appeared on Chinese state television on January 17 confessing he had voluntarily handed himself over to Beijing last year for a crime committed in 2003.
A day after this televised statement, Chinese authorities confirmed Lee Bo, the fifth bookseller missing from Hong Kong since December 30, 2015, was being held in China.