The Hong Kong police received a reply from the Guangdong police on Monday evening confirming that missing bookseller Lee Bo is in mainland China. The message was received 17 days after an enquiry was made.

The Interpol Guangdong Liaison Office of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department stated that it “understood that Lee Po [sic] is in the mainland”.

Also enclosed with the reply was a letter from Lee addressing a “relevant government department” of Hong Kong. The content of the letter is similar to the one received by his wife on January 17, as reported by the media on Monday.

Lee Bo, a shareholder of the Causeway Bay Books, went missing on December 30 in Hong Kong. Lee Bo’s wife received an alleged video from Lee Bo on 9 January. A screenshot of the video was printed on Sing Tao Daily on 10 January. Photo: HKFP.

The police have contacted Mrs Lee, who confirmed it was her husband’s handwriting in the letter. Police wrote to Guangdong authorities on Monday night requesting to meet with Lee in order to further understand the incident.

Lee, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books went missing on December 30 in Hong Kong. Four other members of staff from the store have been missing since October last year.

Photo: Todd Darling/HKFP.

It has been 17 days since Lee Bo’s wife submitted a missing person report to the police on January 1. Under a reciprocal mechanism, law enforcement agencies in the mainland must notify the Hong Kong police within 14 days if any Hong Kong resident is detained across the border.

The first sign that Lee was in the mainland was a phone call he made to his wife on the night he went missing – it was from a Shenzhen number.

After that, Lee wrote two letters to his wife, the first one on January 3, and the second one on January 9.

In the latest letter Lee wrote to his wife on Sunday, he said that he returned to the mainland voluntarily to assist in an investigation, that it was going well and that he had made friends with the investigators.

See also: Comprehensive coverage of the missing bookseller controversy.

He added that he had recently learned of the criminal background of Gui Minhai, another missing bookseller, calling him a very “immoral person”. Lee also blamed Gui for his predicament.

Lee urged people to respect his privacy and that of his family. He said the public should not make a big fuss out of the incident, and that he reserved the right to sue “irresponsible” media and people.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.