The wife of Lee Bo (李波), 65, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books (銅鑼灣圖書), who went missing from Hong Kong late last month, has told police she has been able to visit him in China, Hong Kong police said yesterday.
It is the latest twist in the disappearances of Bo and four other men connected with the bookstore and Hong Kong publisher Mighty Current (巨流) that have intensified fears that Beijing is clamping down on Hong Kong’s freedom of speech.
Lee had previously written that he returned voluntarily to China in letters to his wife, but his supporters believe he was kidnapped and smuggled there.
Hong Kong police said in a statement yesterday that Lee’s wife had told them she had met him on Saturday afternoon at a guesthouse in China.
She said he was healthy and in good spirits, and that he was assisting in an investigation as a witness.
She gave no further details regarding the location of the meeting or the nature of the investigation.
She also handed over a letter from Lee addressed to Hong Kong police. The police statement said its content was similar to his previous letters.
The latest development might raise more questions than it answers.
It is still unclear where Lee and the other four men are exactly, what the investigation involves and whether Lee is detained or is there voluntarily, as he has purportedly said in his letters.
Hong Kong police said they are continuing to investigate Lee’s case and had again asked police in China’s Guangdong Province to assist in arranging a meeting with Lee.
The circumstances of Lee’s case have led many to suspect Chinese security agents crossed into Hong Kong to abduct him, in breach of the “one country, two systems” principle Beijing promised to uphold after taking control of the territory from Britain in 1997.
According to local news reports, Lee was last seen at his company’s warehouse on Dec. 30 last year and did not have a China travel permit, but days after he went missing, he called his wife to say he was in Guangdong.
The other four men have disappeared since October last year from China and Thailand.
Mighty Current specialized in racy, but thinly sourced titles on Chinese political intrigue and scandals, as well as other topics Beijing deems off limits for Chinese publishers.
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