BEIJING – The European Union’s Ambassador to China, Hans-Dietmar Schweisgut, said on Wednesday that he hoped China will soon release Swedish bookseller and activist Gui Minhai.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström had said that Stockholm took a very serious view of Gui’s arrest, which was carried out on hazy grounds.
“The EU fully supports the public statement by Sweden and the efforts by the Swedish government which are taken to bring a solution to the situation,” Schweisgut said during a press conference in Beijing.
The EU ambassador to China also backed a demand by Wallström for Gui’s immediate release.
“There is already a story behind this and we have had many previous occasions, such as when he disappeared from Bangkok and he was, we think, forced to make a confession,” said Schweisgut.
“Mr. Gui Minhai was at the time of his arrest in the company of diplomatic staff, who were providing consular assistance to a Swedish citizen in need of medical care. This was perfectly in line with basic international rules giving us the right to provide our citizens with consular support,” Wallström had said.
The Swedish minister added that Chinese authorities had assured Sweden on many occasions that Gui has been freed after he finished serving a two-year jail term.
The bookseller, owner of a publishing house specializing in books critical of the Communist Party of China, had disappeared from Thailand toward the end of 2015 and reappeared months later under detention in China, where authorities accused him and five other booksellers of selling books banned in the country.
During his detention, Gui confessed to a hit-and-run case in 2003, in which a man was killed and served a two year prison sentence which ended in October 2017.
Gui was, however, not allowed to leave China since he was required to report to the authorities regularly.