The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) raises serious concerns regarding recent developments in the case of five media workers from Causeway Bay Bookstore and Mighty Current Publishers. The IFJ calls on the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to immediately release the five media workers.
On February 29, a new development in the case of the five media workers was revealed, when Phoenix TV aired exclusive interviews with the media workers. In the interviews, Lee Bo, who went missing from Hong Kong in December said he hoped that people would stop voicing concerns about his sudden disappearance and that he had returned to China on his own accord.
In the interview, Lee said: “I wanted to secretly go to the Mainland to resolve whatever issues there are with the company [Mighty Current Publishing Company] and then secretly go back to Hong Kong. I came to the Mainland to assist with the judicial investigation, and I had to incriminate some people. I was really scared that if these people found out, they will cause harm to me and my family, so I didn’t want anyone to know, and I didn’t want to leave any immigration records.”
In addition, Lee said that he had relinquished his UK residency, saying: “I always see myself as a Hongkonger and Chinese. Neither I nor my wife want to become a political tool. I hope those people will stop making a big deal out of this.”
Three other media workers, including Lui Bo, general manager, Cheung Jiping, business manager and Lam Wing-Kei also appeared in The Paper, an online Shanghai outlet. In that media, they admitted that they had ‘illegally operated businesses’ in the Mainland by shipping banned books back to China. They also said that they were under the instructions of Gui Minhai, a shareholder of the companies. Gui disappeared from Thailand in October 2015. In December he appeared on state television confessing to violating Chinese law.
Lee, Lui, Cheung and Lam each made televised apologies on Phoenix TV and in The Paper.
After the exclusive interviews were aired, the pro-democracy camp queries whether four persons were under duress in order to make such television confession. But pro-government lawmaker continuously asked people to respect Lee’s version of event.
On March 2, Hong Kong said that the security bureau of Guangdong said they will release Lui Bo, Cheung Jiping and Lam Wing-Kei on bail in the coming days. The trio were released on bail after giving evidence against Gui Minhai. On the same day, the Secretary for Security, Lai Tung-Kwok, said that the police will keep following up on the cases, however Police Commissioner Steven Lo Wai Chung said there was no evidence to prove that Lee Bo went missing from Hong Kong.
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “The case against the five media workers demonstrates the tightening grip of the government on freedom of expression. The withholding of information raises serious questions about the case and the treatment of the workers. We urge the government to immediately release the media workers or provide specific details about their cases.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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