China sentences Swedish bookseller to 10 years in prison

Clay Curtis
February 27, 2020

For years, Gui sold gossipy books about Chinese leaders in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong media say a court in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, handed down the latest sentence on Monday.

He served two years in prison, before being snatched for a second time in 2018 by Chinese authorities, while travelling with Swedish diplomats on a train to Beijing. In recent months, police have reprimanded medical workers who warned about the ongoing outbreak of a new virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In November, Swedish PEN awarded Gui the Tucholsky prize, named after the German writer Kurt Tucholsky who fled Nazi Germany for Sweden, for persecuted writers. China does not recognize dual citizenship and foreigners are required to renounce their foreign nationality once they gain Chinese citizenship.

For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. According to the statement, Gui said he would not be appealing against his case.

"We find the sentencing very deplorable because what Gui Minhai has done is still very much unclear, why that can constitute the crime he's now being accused of".

China would take "counter-measures" against the decision, Gui Congyou, the Chinese ambassador in Stockholm, said at the time.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International warned that the interview had the hallmarks of a forced confession.

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"Gui Minhai's case has caused some problems in China-Sweden relations".

Tensions over the case flared a year ago when Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven rejected China's threats that Sweden would "suffer the consequences" of awarding Gui a freedom of speech prize.

She stressed that Sweden was not informed about the trial and that the country will use "all diplomatic tools" to protest.

"We got no information that this was going on and had not had access to either the trial or been allowed to see the charges", Linde told SVT. "This is not at all in line with how diplomatic consular work is going. His rights, including inter alia to consular access and due process, have not been respected", a spokesperson for the European Union said in a statement.

"We have summoned China's ambassador to our cabinet secretary and again demanded the release of, and consular access to, our citizen", a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters.

"Gui Minhai's legal rights and interests have been fully protected", Zhao said, adding that China opposes outside interference into its internal affairs.

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China said it detained Gui on suspicion of illegally providing state secrets and intelligence to overseas parties and endangering state security, according to a February 10 report by the state-run Xinhua news agency that cited police.

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