Swedish bookseller held under criminal law, says China

An activist has staged a demonstration outside the Foreign Ministry in Sweden protesting the country's "weak" response after Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai was seized from a Beijing-bound train while being escorted by two diplomats last month.

"The brutal intervention in January against a Swedish-support measure was implemented, despite Chinese repeated assurances that Gui Minhai was a free man at the time", Wallstrom added.

Ms Wallstrom's statement marks a tougher stance from Sweden two weeks after 10 Chinese security agents seized Mr Gui as he travelled to Beijing accompanied by two consular officials to seek medical treatment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (pic) attributed the arrest of Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai to the "violation of Chinese laws", without further explanation.

In a sharply worded statement Monday, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom questioned the rule of law in China and characterized Gui's detention on January 20 on a Chinese train as "contrary to basic global rules on consular support". He staged a demonstration outside the Swedish Foreign Ministry in Stockholm on Tuesday, displaying a large banner that said: "Foreign Minister M. Wallstrom Practise What You Preach!".

"China will never accept the irresponsible remarks made by the Swedish side and we strongly require the Swedish side to refrain from doing the things that will undermine mutual respect and overall picture of the bilateral relations".

"This is a brazen and outrageous move by the Chinese authorities", Amnesty International China Researcher William Nee said. "There is a widespread fear that these violations of global laws, as well as (China's) refusal to allow consular assistance, could happen to other European Union citizens in the future", Germany's ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Swedish daily Expressen.

U.S. state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert and European Union ambassador Hans Dietmar Schweisgut have also called on China to immediately release Mr Gui.

He was one of five people to have gone missing that year from a Hong Kong bookstore and an affiliated publishing company, which specialises in publications critical of China's ruling Communist Party leaders. He eventually surfaced at an undisclosed location in China, confessing to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books into the mainland.

Sweden has demanded that Gui, who is a dual Chinese and Swedish citizen, be released and given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomats and medical staff.

His daughter Angela Gui, 23, said she feared he would be put on trial and receive a longer sentence, jeopardising his health.

"If he does have ALS, perhaps he might not have that much time left", she told AFP.



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