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EU, Sweden Demand China Release of Hong Kong-Based Bookseller


FILE - Protesters try to stick photos of missing booksellers, one of which shows Gui Minhai, at left, during a protest outside the Liaison of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, Jan. 3, 2016.

The European Union's envoy to China is demanding Beijing immediately release a Hong Kong-based bookseller who has been arrested for the second time in two years.

Gui Minhai, who holds Swedish citizenship, was arrested last weekend while traveling with Swedish diplomats by train from the eastern city of Ningbo to Beijing to seek medical treatment. His daughter Angela says he was traveling to Beijing after showing symptoms of the neurological disease amytrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig's disease, after the legendary American baseball player who suffered and eventually died from it.

"We expect the Chinese authorities to immediately release Gui Minhai from detention and allow him to reunite with his family, to get consulate support and medical support," EU ambassador Hans Dietmar Schweisgut told reporters in Beijing Wednesday.

FILE - Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom speaks to reporters.
FILE - Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom speaks to reporters.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom issued a statement Tuesday demanding Gui's immediate release. The ministry has twice summoned the Chinese ambassador to Stockholm to explain Gui's detention.

Chinese authorities have not revealed Gui's whereabouts, nor revealed the reason for his arrest.

Hua Chunuying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, dismissed the concerns about Gui's arrest Wednesday, suggesting that he had committed a crime. She said any foreign government that "truly protect her own citizens should do so by educating them" about the laws of the country they are visiting or living in.

FILE - A pro-democracy activist burns a letter next to pictures of missing staff members of a publishing house and bookstore, including Gui Minhai, owner of Mighty Current, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 3, 2016.
FILE - A pro-democracy activist burns a letter next to pictures of missing staff members of a publishing house and bookstore, including Gui Minhai, owner of Mighty Current, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 3, 2016.

The 53-year-old Gui disappeared while on holiday in Thailand in 2015, only to resurface on the mainland and in Chinese custody. He was imprisoned on charges relating to a fatal traffic accident years earlier, before his release last October.

Gui was one of five Hong Kong booksellers apparently detained by China that year for selling gossipy books about the Chinese politically elite. Their arrests reinforced growing fears in Hong Kong of slowly eroding civil liberties under Beijing, which took control of the territory in 1997 from British rule.

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