Sweden has demanded answers from China over the brazen abduction of a Swedish book publisher, Gui Minhai, calling for his “immediate release” in a statement Tuesday.
Gui, 53, was seized by plainclothes police officers while aboard a Beijing-bound train on Saturday, according to his daughter Angela. The incident occurred in front of diplomats who were accompanying him for a medical examination at the Swedish embassy.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry summoned Chinese ambassador Gui Congyou for the second time on Tuesday night to explain the Chinese government’s actions.
“We take a very serious view of the detention on Saturday of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, with no specific reason being given for the detention, which took place during an ongoing consular support mission,” the Swedish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It isn’t the first time Gui has been abducted – he first disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand in late 2015 after being allegedly seized by Chinese agents.
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said they had received assurances from the Chinese government that Gui was a free man following his release in October 2017 after serving a sentence for a “traffic-related offense.”
“We expect the immediate release of our fellow citizen, and that he be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff,” the statement said.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, EU Ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said he expected Chinese authorities to immediately release Gui and return him to his family, according to Reuters.
A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Minister repeatedly declined to provide details on Guo’s case during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“All foreigners in China, including diplomats in foreign embassies and consulates, must not violate international law or Chinese laws,” said Hua Chunying. “That’s common sense and a basic principle.”
’I have not heard anything’
Gui’s daughter Angela said her father had been diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease known as ALS.
She said he had been five hours into his trip to Beijing from his home in Ningbo when about 10 men in plainclothes had boarded the train, saying they were from the police.
The journey time between the two cities by rail is typically around 8 hours.
“(They) just grabbed him and took him away. After that, I have not heard anything,” she told Radio Sweden from Cambridge, England.
Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who mysteriously vanished in late 2015 only to resurface in Chinese police custody. All were involved in publishing political gossip about China’s Communist Party leadership.
The Swedish citizen was eventually released from custody after making a public confession on state broadcaster CCTV. His daughter said, despite his release, he remained under close police surveillance.
Since Xi came to power in late 2012, China has rounded up hundreds of activists and lawyers nationwide in what many analysts call the worst crackdown on human rights advocates in decades.
As of late 2017, more than 300 lawyers, human rights activists, as well as their family members and staff have been caught up in the most recent crackdown, according to the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.