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Saturday, 23 January 2021

Chinese court gives Gui Minhai, Hong Kong bookseller, 10 years in jail

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Chinese court gives Gui Minhai, Hong Kong bookseller, 10 years in jail
Chinese court gives Gui Minhai, Hong Kong bookseller, 10 years in jail

A Chinese court has sentenced Chinese-born Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong bookseller, to 10 years in prison for illegally providing intelligence overseas.

Joe Davies reports.

A Chinese court has jailed a Hong Kong bookseller for 10 years for illegally providing intelligence overseas.

Chinese-born Swedish citizen Gui Minhai sold books that were critical of China's political leadership.

Such books are banned in mainland China but their production and sale is legal in Hong Kong.

Chinese officials objected to a literary organization awarding him a prize last year for his services to free speech.

The sentencing has drawn condemnation from Amnesty International.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, CHINA RESEARCHER, PATRICK POON, SAYING: "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." Gui Minhai is the highest-profile of five booksellers who vanished in late 2015 - all linked to a Hong Kong bookshop.

Thousands in the city state took to the streets to protest against their disappearance.

Gui, who was initially abducted in a Thai beach resort, resurfaced, as did others, in detention in mainland China.

He was released in October 2017, before being arrested the following January.

On Tuesday (February 25), China's foreign ministry spokesman said Gui Minhai's "illegal providing of intelligence... outside the country was an action that seriously harmed China's national security and interests".

He added: "China is a country governed by the rule of law.

China's judicial bodies strictly abided by the law when processing this case and deciding on this sentence, and have fully guaranteed Gui Minhai's legal rights." Sweden, though, disputes that and says China has offered no access to or knowledge of a trial.

China says consular visits in general had been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from the court in Ningbo said Gui would not be appealing the sentence and had asked to have his Chinese citizenship reinstated.

Gui's daughter and his supporters have called for his release, saying he's a victim of illegal political persecution.

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