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Missing bookseller detained in China returns to Hong Kong, police say

HONG KONG (Reuters) - One of five missing Hong Kong booksellers specialising in gossipy publications about Chinese leaders and detained in China returned home on Friday, Hong Kong police said.

A printout showing Lee Bo, specializing in publications critical of China, and four other colleagues who went missing, is displayed outside a bookstore at Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong, China January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

They did not give further details, other than to say he wanted his missing person case dismissed.

Lui Por was one of five men associated with Causeway Bay Books to go missing and then resurface in police custody in China, sparking fears that Chinese authorities had abducted them.

Their plight provoked concerns that China was using shadowy tactics to weaken Hong Kong’s broad freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula under which the global financial hub has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Two of the men, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, had been outside mainland China when they disappeared. Gui was in Thailand and Lee in Hong Kong.

“I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai,” Lui told Phoenix Television on Sunday.

Police had said on Wednesday that authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong had told them Lui and his colleagues, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, would be released on bail in coming days.

Lui’s release comes just a day before the opening of China’s annual parliamentary session, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing.

A number of governments have expressed concern regarding the disappearances, which some diplomats fear were abductions, and scepticism about the accounts of their disappearances.

China’s Foreign Ministry has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas, and called on foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

Reporting by Venus Wu in Hong Kong and James Pomfret in Beijing; Writing by Clare Baldwin in Hong Kong; Editing by Nick Macfie