Bookseller detained in China lashes out at Sweden's role

A detained Swedish national and Hong Kong bookseller has confessed wrongdoing and accused his adopted country Sweden of using him as a "chess piece." 

A detained Swedish national and Hong Kong bookseller has confessed wrongdoing and accused his adopted country Sweden of using him as a “chess piece.” 

Gui Minhai told reporters in Ninbo in east China on Friday that he never wanted to leave China and Sweden had been using his case to “create trouble” for the Chinese government.

Gui said officials in Sweden had sensationalized his case for political purposes ahead of this year’s general election. “Looking back, I might have become Sweden’s chess piece. I broke the law again under their instigation,” Gui said. “My wonderful life has been ruined and I would never trust the Swedish ever again.”

He was detained again recently by Chinese police over suspected violations of Chinese law, about three months after his release from a Chinese prison. Gui was freed on October 17 after completing a two-year term over his drunken driving that killed a person more than a decade ago. He turned himself in to police in 2015.

As Chinese authorities continued investigation into Gui’s suspected illegal business operation, he was not allowed to leave the country according to law.

“When I was released, my illegal business operation case has not been put to an end. I resume an inmate’s life, for which to a large extent, my thanks should be given to the Swedish government and you,” said Gui in a letter he wrote on January 27 to the Swedish ambassador to China.

After his release, Gui said in a letter of commitment to police in Ningbo, he would continue cooperation with authorities on the investigation into the illegal business case and would inform authorities if he leaves the city.

However, on January 20, accompanied by two Swedish diplomats, Gui suddenly arrived in Shanghai riding in a car with a diplomatic plate, and then boarded a high-speed train bound for Beijing.

Police said Gui took with him information materials concerning state secrets and was suspected of illegally providing state secrets and intelligence overseas and endangering state security.

Police contacted him many times and demanded he return and receive investigation, but the accompanying Swedish diplomats asked Gui to refuse cooperation. When the high-speed train stopped at Jinan West Railway Station in Shandong Province, police took Gui away and put him under custody according to law.

Some overseas media and Western countries such as Sweden pointed fingers at China over Gui’s case, accusing China of “violating” international norms and “interfering” with consular affairs.

On Friday, Gui applied to authorities and asked to speak the truth before media at his detention place in Ningbo. “When I was in Sweden, they paid little attention to me. I felt I was not recognized by local Swedes,” said Gui. “The Swedish have done this just out of their political purposes and to meet the need of some political figures for the 2018 elections in Sweden.”

Gui said he had Swedish nationality, but he did not live in Sweden almost in the past decade. Instead, he lived in Germany. It was just after he surrendered to Chinese police and especially his release that the Swedish government began to pay special attention to him.

“I do not want the Swedish side to continue hyping up my case. I have seen through the Swedish government. I may consider giving up my Swedish nationality if it continues to do so,” said Gui.

“Under Sweden’s continual instigation, I broke the law again. My happy life was destroyed,” said Gui. “I just simply hope that my family will not be taken advantage of and I can stay in China to live a peaceful life.”

During the three months after his release, Gui lived in a rented house in Ningbo and attended to his aged mother with his three sisters. “I feel like returning to my childhood and the life is really happy.” To accompany his mother, Gui successfully applied for a residence permit to local police.

Soon afterwards, the Swedish side contacted Gui frequently and attempted to help him to leave China, sending consulate staff to Ningbo to persuade him to go with them to Sweden.

“They told me I was just one step away from success. As long as I take the step, I will succeed in returning to Sweden,” said Gui.

Gui suffered muscle atrophy in the hands. But the Swedish side claimed he suffered amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, promising to send him to Sweden for treatment.

“Helping me treat my illness is just an excuse. Their purpose is to bring me back to Sweden as soon as possible,” said Gui.

“I have lost trust in the Swedish government. I hope I handle my issue on my own,” he said.

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