EU urges China to release Swedish book publisher

Members from the pro-democracy Civic Party carry a portrait of Gui Minhai (L) and Lee Bo during a protest outside the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Beijing, China Jan 24, 2018, 08.05 AM (IST)

The European Union's ambassador to China urged Beijing today to "immediately" release dissident publisher Gui Minhai after the Swedish citizen was snatched for a second time while accompanied by Swedish diplomats.

"We expect the Chinese authorities to immediately release Mr Gui Minhai from detention and allow him to reunite with his family, to get consular support and to get medical support," said Hans Dietmar Schweisgut at a press conference, adding: "He's a Swedish citizen and a citizen of the EU."

One of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for salacious titles about the lives of China's political elite, 53-year-old Gui first went missing in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand before resurfacing at an undisclosed location in China.

Chinese authorities said they had released Gui in October, but it was unclear to what extent he was a free man after serving a jail sentence over "a traffic incident".

His daughter Angela Gui told Radio Sweden that he had then been snatched by plain clothes police on Saturday while on a train to Beijing from the eastern city of Ningbo, where he was living, while accompanied by two Swedish diplomats.

Gui senior had been travelling to Beijing to see a Swedish doctor as he was showing symptoms of the neurological disease ALS -- also known as Lou Gehrig's disease -- Angela added.