Detained bookseller Gui Minhai was sentenced to 10 years in jail in China on Monday after being found guilty of “illegally providing intelligence” to overseas parties.

Update: Gui Minhai is Swedish, says Stockholm, after claim jailed bookseller sought to reinstate Chinese citizenship

According to the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province, Gui said he agreed with the sentence and will not appeal.

Gui Minhai. File photo: Screenshot/CCTV.

Gui – a Swedish national – was among five Hong Kong-based booksellers affiliated with Causeway Bay Books, which sold political gossip titles.

He disappeared in late 2015, only to reappear in mainland China “confessing” on state TV to various crimes. He served two years in prison.

The now-closed Causeway Bay bookstore. Photo: HKFP/Stanley Leung.

Gui was then released in October 2017, only to be arrested again in January 2018 while travelling with Swedish diplomats on a train to Beijing to seek medical help.

The court said Gui had applied to reinstate his Chinese citizenship in 2018, though it is not clear if he gave up his Swedish citizenship.

‘Flimsy, excessive’

In a response to HKFP, President of PEN Hong Kong Tammy Ho Lai-Ming condemned the charge as “flimsy” and the court’s sentencing as “excessive.”

“Gui’s human rights as a publisher and as a Swedish citizen have been repeatedly violated by the Chinese state… and he has been forced to participate in a charade of confessions in that time. PEN Hong Kong also feels the administrations of CY Leung and Carrie Lam have been shamefully complicit in the political prosecution of Gui and the other booksellers by refusing to speak up about their abductions, which were in clear breach of Hong Kong law,” she said.

Amnesty International’s China Researcher Patrick Poon also condemned the sentence: “The deplorable verdict and shockingly harsh sentence handed to Gui Minhai on completely unsubstantiated charges demonstrates yet again that the Chinese authorities are not letting the coronavirus crisis distract them from repressing dissidents… Unless China can provide concrete, credible and admissible evidence of the crimes Gui has allegedly committed, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

HKFP has contacted Gui’s daughter and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.


Correction: An early version of this article wrongly stated that Gui will appeal –  we regret the error.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.