Swedish bookseller sentenced to 10 years in prison

(Ningbo, Zhejiang—Feb. 25, 2020) According to a Guardian report, Gui Minhai, a well-known bookseller in Hong Kong, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years without political rights for “providing intelligence” overseas. The Chinese government statement said he pleaded guilty and would not be appealing.

Gui is a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, thus embroiling both governments in diplomatic issues as the Swedish government calls for his release.

He caught the attention of the Chinese government as the head of a Hong Kong publishing house that acquired the independent bookstore Causeway Books. The store came under fire for its routine publication of scandalous books regarding top Chinese officials. The latest book to be published before Gui’s disappearance was said to be about President Xi Jinping’s love life.

In 2015, Gui disappeared while at his home in Thailand along with four others who were connected with the bookstore. Chinese authorities first said he was being held on suspicion of illegal business operations. The next year, Gui gave a taped confession to a drunk driving incident that happened a decade earlier that is widely believed to have been forced.

The four others also made taped confessions, but were eventually released.

Gui was partially released in 2017 to house arrest. In January 2018, he was detained by plainclothes officers while travelling with two Swedish diplomats to a medical appointment. He was then seen at a Chinese government press conference renouncing Sweden for sensationalizing his story. Again, his friends and advocates believe this was forced upon him by the Chinese Communist officials.

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