Monday, 29 February 2016

More "Confessions" from Missing Booksellers

In a Phoenix TV interview, Lee Po says he willingly returned to the mainland
Things are getting weirder in the case of the missing booksellers.

Six weeks after Hong Kong police requested to meet with one of the five, Lee Po, who runs Causeway Bay Books, a police officer and immigration officer finally saw him face to face, at a guest house in an undisclosed location at Lee's request.

He told the pair he went to the mainland of his own free will, that he had not been abducted, but refused to elaborate. He even reiterated he was free and safe in the mainland and that he was helping with an investigation involving another missing bookseller, Gui Minhai.

Lee repeated his request for the police to end their investigation into his case and that he didn't need any help from the Hong Kong government. He said he would return home once the investigation was over.

Then yesterday the three other missing booksellers appeared on state television, the first time they were seen since they were reported missing in October.

CW top left: Gui Minhai, Lui Por, Lam Wing-kei, Cheung Chi-ping
The three made confessions on TV, admitting to "operating an illegal business" on the mainland.

Phoenix Television reported that Gui had allegedly ordered his associates -- Mighty Current general manager Lui Por, Causeway Bay Books manager Lam Wing-kee and Lui's assistant Cheung Chi-ping -- to mail 4,000 unauthorized books to 380 buyers in 28 mainland cities and provinces since October 2014.

The booksellers allegedly opened a bank account on the mainland to receive payment from mainland customers.

Nevertheless Lui, Lam and Cheung could be granted bail pending trial and return to Hong Kong soon due to their "good attitude", the Phoenix TV report said.

Gui also appeared on television, wearing the same grey jacket he wore in his first appearance, admitting to drunk driving and allegedly killing a young woman in 2003.

This time Gui said he and the three others studied ways to smuggle books across the border, including wrapping the covers with other books and then packaging them in black nylon bags to make it hard for the authorities to X-ray the books.

He added the books also escaped detection because they were loaded into trucks carrying other goods.

Causeway Bay Books manager Lam also said the books they produced were fabricated.

"The contents are compiled from information downloaded from the internet or from magazines. They created rumours and bad influences in the society," Lam said on TV.

The Chinese authorities are making the story more and more bizarre. They say the end is in sight for three accomplices once they go through some kind of legal process, but what about Lee and Gui? When will they be allowed to return to Hong Kong?

Even better Lee has said that he will renounce his British passport. Really? Has the Chinese government offered him permanent residency and a hukou because he has "special talents"?

Skeptical Hong Kong people continue to be shocked and appalled by the latest developments. As we've said before, the longer the Chinese authorities keep these five booksellers, the greater our distrust of Beijing...

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