China: Bookseller Gui Minhai sentenced to 10 years of jail

Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen and journalist formerly based in Hong Kong was sentenced on February 24 to ten years in prison for allegedly “illegally providing intelligence overseas” .The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the courts sentencing of Gui Minhai and demands his immediate release.

In this file photo taken on January 19, 2016, placards showing missing bookseller Lee Bo (L) and his associate Gui Minhai (R) are seen left by members of the Civic party outside the China liaison office in Hong Kong. Credit: Philippe Lopez/AFP

On February 24 the Court of Ningbo City, an eastern port city in China, found  Gui, a publisher and shareholder of Mighty Current Media which owned the Causeway Bookstore in Hong Kong, guilty for illegal providing intelligence overseas. The court said Gui pled guilty and will not appeal the decision. The trial’s verdict, handed down five days after a petition by Swedish journalists calling on China’s President Xi Jinping to end harassment against people who engaged in Gui Minhai’s case was buried among over 40 other court announcements made the same day.

Before the Causeway Bay bookstore in Hong Kong closed, it was known for selling sensitive political books. Gui first disappeared in October 2015 from his holiday house in Thailand after not being heard from for several months. He then suddenly re-appeared in 2016 on television in China, confessing to a ‘traffic violation’ dating back to 2003, which led to his initial imprisonment. After his disappearance, another four other people related to Causeway Bay bookstore also disappeared. 

Gui was released in October 2017, only to be arrested in January 2018 while travelling with Swedish diplomats on a train to Beijing to seek medical help.  On February 24, 2020, the Court said Gui had applied to reinstate his Chinese citizenship which would make it difficult for Gui to receive help from Swedish authorities as China does not recognize or allow dual nationality.

The IFJ said:“The actions against Gui Minhai, from his disappearance to forced confession to trial, represent a grave violation of human rights and represents the shocking state of repression facing all media workers both in and outside of China. The Government of China continues to silence critical voices at all costs, paying little heed to concerns by the international community and the country of Gui Minhai. The IFJ calls for the immediate release of Gui, and asks the European Union and UN to actively pursue an investigation and hold the Chinese authorities accountable for any human rights violations made in the handling of Gui.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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