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Missing Hong Kong Bookseller Reappears

  • VOA News

FILE - A protester wearing a mask of bookseller Lee Bo stands in a cage during a protest against the disappearances of booksellers in Hong Kong, Jan. 10, 2016.

A Hong Kong bookseller missing for two months says he was not kidnapped, but had sneaked into China illegally to help authorities with an investigation.

Lee Bo, a dual British and Hong Kong citizen, went missing on December 30, just months after four of his publishing associates disappeared.

The disappearances drew concern that China was eroding the "one country, two systems" principle under which Hong Kong has been governed with civil liberties such as freedom of the press.

In an interview with the pro-China Phoenix TV, Lee said he went to China voluntarily.

Lee said the purpose of his trip was to assist in a Chinese investigation, which required him to give evidence against some people whom he declined to name.

Lee also said he would renounce his British citizenship.

The four other Hong Kong booksellers say they have been detained for illegal booktrading in mainland China.

The men were all associated with the publisher Mighty Current, which specializes in books on political scandals involving China's Communist leaders and other sensitive topics that are banned in the mainland.

In January, one of them, Gui Minhai, a naturalized Swedish citizen, said he returned to China to surrender to police 11 years after fleeing a fatal drunk driving incident, despite receiving a two-year suspended sentence at the time.

Gui's friends have suspected he was abducted for political reasons by Chinese agents from his apartment in Pattaya, Thailand, and smuggled into China.