A group of Swedish publishers on Monday demanded Beijing release Chinese-Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020 on charges of illegally providing intelligence abroad.

Gui, one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing salacious titles about China’s political leaders, has been at the centre of diplomatic tensions between Stockholm and Beijing for more than six years.

gui minhai
Gui Minhai. Photo: Screenshot/CCTV.

Gui disappeared while on holiday in Thailand in 2015 and resurfaced in China, where he served two years in prison.

A few months after his October 2017 release he was again arrested, this time while on a train to Beijing with Swedish diplomats.

He was then hit with the 10-year jail term in 2020.

On Monday, a letter signed by 21 Swedish publishers and addressed to China’s new ambassador to Sweden, Cui Aimin, was printed in the country’s main newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The 21 included authors, literary figures and culture editors for Sweden’s main dailies, as well as Gui’s Swedish publisher Martin Kaunitz.

“Mr Ambassador, the name you will hear most in Swedish-Chinese relations is Gui Minhai”, they wrote. 

“All Swedish (political) parties, freedom of speech organisations and leading Swedish newspapers demand that Gui Minhai be immediately released”.

gui minhai and daughter angela
Gui Minhai and his daughter Angela.

They argued that China had arrested Gui on “loose grounds”. The allegation that he provided intelligence to a foreign country “seems to have been pulled out of thin air and casts long shadows over China”.

China insists the matter is an internal affair and has been stung by criticism from Sweden.

Gui was born in China, which does not recognize dual citizenship. Chinese officials claimed he voluntarily reinstated his Chinese citizenship in 2018.

Sweden insists he remains a citizen.

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