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China: Bookseller sentenced to 10 years

    Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 11:48

    Gui Minhai via Twitter


    Bookseller Gui Minhai was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for five years on the charge of “illegally providing intelligence to foreign entities” on 24 February 2020. Without access to his family, a lawyer of his choice and consular officials, there are grave concerns for his health and that Gui Minhai is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. 

    Gui Minhai appears to have been tried and convicted in secret, denying him any chance of a fair trial. Despite the claim that he handed over ‘intelligence’ while in their custody, it appears that his conviction is primarily based on his attempted trip to Beijing with two Swedish diplomats in 2018.

    Without any further information provided, the court notice also stated that Gui Minhai had reapplied for Chinese citizenship in 2018. This would mean he could not rely on his Swedish citizenship any longer. As Gui Minhai has been held in custody since 2015, the true intention of this decision cannot be verified. 

    Gui Minhai has not been able to see his family members and consular officials, or even have access to a lawyer of his own choice, since 2018. Given his existing health condition, which requires regular and urgent medical care, Gui Minhai’s family are particularly concerned for his wellbeing. 

    Please send a fax, email or letter to the president. (Mail is the most reliable method.)

    • Start with Dear President Xi and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique. 
    • Express concern for Gui Minhai who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for five years on the charge of “illegally providing intelligence to foreign entities” on 24 February 2020. 
    • Call on him to release Gui Minhai and drop the charges against him unless there is enough credible and admissible evidence that he has committed an internationally recognized offence and is granted a fair trial in line with international standards.
    • While he remains detained, insist that Gui Minhai is accorded prompt, regular and unrestricted access to medical care on request or as necessary, to a lawyer of his choice and to his family.
    • Seek clarity on the circumstances of his change of citizenship and until then, ask the president to grant Gui Minhai access to consular officials. 

    Write to

    President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping
    Xichengqu, Beijing Shi 100017
    People Republic of China
    Fax:         011 86 10 6238 1025

    Please copy

    His Excellency Peiwu Cong 
    Ambassador for the People's Republic of China 
    515 St. Patrick Street
    Ottawa, Ontario K1N 5H3
    Fax:         613 789 1911
    Phone:        613 789 3434  or  613 762 3769    

    Additional information

    Gui Minhai was one of the five Hong Kong–based publishers and booksellers who disappeared in 2015 after printing books critical of the Chinese government. 

    Mighty Current Media and the Causeway Bay Bookstore that Gui Minhai led were known for their books on Chinese leaders and political scandals, which are banned in mainland China but are popular with mainland Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong. The detention and disappearances of Gui Minhai and the other booksellers had a chilling effect on the climate for freedom of expression and publishing in Hong Kong and the Chinese-speaking world.

    Gui Minhai’s case drew international attention after he first went missing in Thailand on 17 October 2015, about the same time that three of his company colleagues also went missing. Another associate, Lee Bo, was taken away from Hong Kong on 30 December 2015. Gui Minhai later reappeared on Chinese state television in January 2016 to give a choreographed “confession” on television regarding an alleged traffic incident that took place in 2003. Many believe that the drunk driving charge was simply a pretense to detain Gui Minhai and shut down his publishing business.

    In October 2017, Gui Minhai was “released” after he had, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, “completely served the sentence imposed for a traffic offence”, however his daughter has since raised concerns that Gui Minhai remained under state surveillance and monitoring after his supposed release.

    Nevertheless, on 20 January 2018 while on a train from Ningbo to Beijing and accompanied by two Swedish diplomats helping him to get medical care, Gui Minhai was suddenly taken away by approximately 10 plainclothes officers. He has not been seen since. 

    If you want Updates on this case, send your request to with “Keep me updated on Gui Minhai” in the subject line.