Causeway Bay Books publisher Gui Minhai has said he regretted attempting to go to Beijing with Swedish diplomats last month, which ended in Gui being reportedly snatched from a train.
In an interview with pro-Beijing newspaper Oriental Daily on Friday, Gui urged Swedish authorities to stop “hyping” his case. It is unclear how Oriental Daily was able to obtain the interview, or whether Gui was pressured to speak. However, the paper said Gui asked the police to arrange for him to speak to the media.
In a 1.5-minute video published by Oriental Daily, Gui said the Swedish authorities proposed taking him to their consulate in Beijing for medical treatment, then have him leave the country for Sweden. He said two Swedish diplomats drove to Ningbo, where he was staying, and attempted to take him to Shanghai, where he would board a train to the capital.
“On the way, they asked me not to get off, in order not to attract attention from others, saying I needed to get to Beijing quietly, and that is how I ended up on the train, being taken back by Ningbo Public Security organs, in accordance with the law.”
“Now I really regret this, because in fact the Swedish side did not exactly tell me what the exact situation was for going to get treatment in Beijing, what kind of doctor I was going to see, and so on.” He said he was only told that he would meet with a Swedish sinologist and someone from the American Foundation.
Gui was among five Hong Kong-based booksellers who hit the headlines when they disappeared in late 2015. Their store, Causeway Bay Books, sold political gossip titles banned in the mainland. Gui went missing in Pattaya, Thailand with no record of departure, only to re-emerge on Chinese state television months later “confessing” to a drunk-driving incident which took place over a decade ago.
Video: Gui Minhai speaks out to Chinese media pic.twitter.com/0MDhBXx8NZ
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 10, 2018
Gui was held in Chinese custody for two years and was formally released last October after serving his sentence for a “traffic offence,” but – according to his daughter Angela Gui – he was living in a “police-managed” flat under their surveillance in the eastern city of Ningbo.
Oriental Daily said, citing a notice from Chinese authorities, that Gui was carrying many documents “involving national secret intelligence” when he was seized, and was being criminally detained for illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to foreign entities.
The report also stated that he had been examined by a doctor in Ningbo, and, contrary to his daughter’s statements, did not have the neurological disease ALS, and only had a spinal problem.
According to Oriental Daily, Gui chose to speak out after he sent a letter to the Swedish ambassador and asked them to stop hyping the story, but “obviously they did not stop.” The newspaper said he asked the police to let him meet with the press to clarify the matter.
Gui said that, since he had finished serving his sentence, he had been living in a rented flat in Ningbo so he could spend time with her.
Rights groups have hit out at China’s treatment of Gui. “It is ludicrous for the Chinese government to lecture others about respect, when they have shown utter contempt for fair trials and other human rights,” Amnesty International China Researcher William Nee said this week.
Angela Gui, told AFP that “[i]f he does have ALS, perhaps he might not have that much time left.”