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Daughter Reports Communication From Missing Hong Kong Publisher

The small blue sign at the bottom of this photo marks the entrance to the bookstore in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district where Mighty Current sells books that are critical of Chinese leaders.

The daughter of a missing Hong Kong publisher whose books criticize China's government says her father emailed her on Friday, in his first reported communication in almost a month.

The daughter, who is a university student in England and who spoke to VOA by phone, said Gui Minhai emailed her to say he had transferred money to her bank account.

Gui Minhai is a mainland China-born Swedish national and owner of publishing company Mighty Current, which produces books critical of Chinese leaders and sells them at a bookstore in autonomous Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district.

Mystery begins

An associate of Gui, surnamed Lee, told reporters in Hong Kong this week that he had not heard from the publisher since October 15. The reports quoted Lee as saying Gui had been on vacation in the Thai resort of Pattaya, where the publisher owns a home, and emailed printers on that date to inform them about a new book for publication.

Lee also was quoted as telling the reporters that he feared Chinese authorities had detained Gui in Thailand to suppress the upcoming book.

Gui's daughter, who asked not to be named, said she had not been aware of her father's disappearance until his Hong Kong associates notified her this week.

"I had been trying to reach him for more than two weeks before I was told he disappeared," she said. "I just assumed he was busy or that something had happened to his phone."

She said she received "a very odd" email from Gui on Friday morning, England time. "He told me that he had transferred money to my bank account and hoped I would be fine. But he didn't tell me where he was, and I hadn't asked about money."

Gui's daughter described her "relief" at receiving the email. "I know that means he's still alive, but it's just really strange," she said.

Other disappearances

Lee told reporters three other business associates of Gui also went missing last month, two of them while visiting Shenzhen, a mainland Chinese city across the border from Hong Kong. It was not clear where the third associate was at the time of the disappearances.

Lee said he suspected the three associates also were detained by Chinese authorities because of their work for the publisher, whose bookstore is popular with mainland Chinese visitors because its books are banned in the mainland.

Gui's daughter told VOA the Swedish foreign ministry is trying to find him. "They've got a designated person to work on the case, and they're keeping me updated as they're getting more information," she said.

She also said she had been worried about her father because of his work. "He has not really wanted to talk to me about it," she said. "I just assumed that he knew what he was doing."

The publisher's disappearance has worried rights activists who say press freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated in recent years, in part because of prosecutions of other Hong Kong journalists by mainland authorities. Hong Kong's government has said it strives to protect the right to press freedom in the territory's Basic Law, or constitution.

Neither the Hong Kong government nor central Chinese government has commented publicly on Gui's case.

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