February 22, 2019

HK bookseller: China TV confession ‘forced’

Freed Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee stands before giving a news conference in Hong

Lam Wing-kee, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared in 2015 and came home on Tuesday, said his “confession” for “illegal trading” was forced and one of his colleagues was abducted.

Lam, who along with four others worked at Causeway Bay Books that published titles critical of Beijing, was seized by agents at Luo Wu border on October 24 while on his way to visit his girlfriend.

All of the five “missing” publishers later appeared in China in police custody.

Lam said a broadcast on Phoenix TV  in February featuring him confessing for the illegal trading was scripted.

It was a show and he had to accept it, he told a press conference. Had he failed to follow the script, they would have asked for a re-take, he said.

Three of his colleagues, Gui Minhai, Lee Bo, and Cheung Jiping too gave details of their alleged offences during their respective TV appearances.

Critics, however, maintained that the retractions by the booksellers were made under pressure from Beijing.

Lam said that after seizing him at Luo Wu border, agents took him handcuffed and blindfolded to the port city of Ningbo.

Over the next eight months, he was held in solitary confinement and denied legal representation.

Lam said he was arrested for mailing “forbidden books” to mainland China from Hong Kong.

He was forced to sign a statement confirming his guilt.

According to him, his company’s publisher, Lee Bo (Paul Lee), a British citizen, was abducted.

Lam said he was allowed to return to Hong Kong only to collect a database of customers who had purchased books from his store. He said he does not want to return to the mainland with the database as instructed.

Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen and co-owner of the publishing company, is in police custody in China after disappearing from his home in the Thai town of Pattaya in October.

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