Daughter of detained Hong Kong bookseller appeals for U.S. help

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The daughter of a Hong Kong-based bookseller detained in China appealed on Tuesday for U.S. help in pressing China for information about his status and securing his release.

Members from the pro-democracy Civic Party carry a portrait of Lee Bo (L) and Gui Minhai before they protest outside Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

Angela Gui told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that her father, Gui Minhai, a naturalized Swede, had been detained for eight months without trial and was being denied consular access or legal representation.

“I still haven’t been told where he is, how he is being treated, or what his legal status is — which is especially shocking in light of the fact that my father holds Swedish, and only Swedish, citizenship,” she said.

Gui Minhai disappeared in Thailand in October and subsequently appeared in a tearful confession broadcast on Chinese state television in January in which he said he had turned himself in to mainland authorities and been detained for “illegal book trading.” {nL3N16839K]

Angela Gui, who was born in Sweden and studies in Britain, said the confession was “clearly staged” and her father was in “unofficial and illegal detention.”

Many in Hong Kong and some foreign diplomats suspect Gui Minhai and four associates, who sold books critical of Chinese leaders, were illegally abducted by mainland agents. China has denied any wrongdoing.

Their disappearance sparked fears that China was overriding the “one country, two systems” formula protecting Hong Kong’s freedoms since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Angela Gui appealed for support in securing his father’s release, or if he was suspected of a real crime, for details of his detention and proof his case was being handled legally.

“I also want to ask the United States to take every opportunity to ask China for information on my father’s status, as well as urge that he be freed immediately,” she said.

“The U.S., Sweden, and other countries ... need to work to make sure that Chinese authorities are not allowed to carry out illegal operations on foreign soil.” The United States has called on China to clarify the status of the booksellers.

Gui said she had spoken to her father about a month ago and he had said she was not allowed to visit him.

She said Sweden had not been allowed consular access since February and that China had told Sweden her father wished to give up Swedish citizenship, but he had not done so.

“There haven’t been any papers filed to my knowledge,” she said.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney