Bookseller Lee Bo feared that political reasons were behind colleague Gui Minhai’s disappearance, according to an email written to Gui’s daughter Angela about 25 days after Gui went missing in October. Lee apparently wrote the email weeks before he went missing last December, reported Ming Pao.

“[W]e fear that he was taken by special agents from China for political reasons,” said Lee in the email. He also said that he felt Gui’s wife was “hesitating” and “not doing anything at the moment”.

Lee Bo appeared in a TV interview last week after being reported missing since December 30, 2015. Photo: Phoenix TV screenshot.

Angela Gui reportedly said that, despite Lee blaming her father in the media and in letters to his wife, the content of the email was evidence that Lee was “forced to speak under surveillance and fear”.

“Not only are they business partners, but also friends for many years. What he [Lee] said after being caught is not true,” Angela told Ming Pao.

She also said the news that the return of two booksellers, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por, to Hong Kong gave her hope that her father may soon return home. However, as there were a lot of allegations made against her father, the situation caused her to worry.

Lee Bo and Gui Minhai were reported missing since last year, along with their Causeway Bay Books colleagues Cheung Chi-ping, Lui Por and Lam Wing-kee. Lee appeared on a television interview on February 29, saying that he went back to the mainland on his own accord and that he would give up his British citizenship. Gui appeared in a television confession on January 17 admitting to killing a student while drink-driving.

Cheung and Lui have returned to Hong Kong, both asking the police to cancel the investigation into their disappearances. Neither disclosed further information.

Full Email

Hi Angela,

I am Paul Lee [Bo], Michael’s business partner, who had lunch with you and Michael last year in Hong Kong.

I write to you concerning the whereabouts of Michael. I wonder if you have known that he has been missing for more than 20 days, we fear that he was taken by special agents from China for political reasons.

We last talked to Michael by email on 15 October, and after that day, nobody could contact him. He was then staying in his apartment in Thailand. According to [Gui Minhai’s wife]’s words told by the watchman of the building, he left the apartment with several men who claimed to be his friends.

Since we feel [Gui’s wife] is hesitating and is not doing anything at the moment, and it’s very little we can do to help him because we are not his next of kin. I then think of you, perhaps you can do something, and there are a lot of Michael’s friends [who] are ready to help if you need them.

Do tell me what you think and what you want us to do.

Best, Paul Lee

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.