Three detained Hong Kong booksellers to be released

Hong Kong, March 3 (IANS) Three of the five Hong Kong booksellers, detained in China, will be freed in a few days shortly after they confessed on television, the media reported on Thursday.

A statement by the Hong Kong police on Wednesday night confirmed the imminent release of Cheung Chi-ping, Lui Por and Lam Wing-kei, although it is unclear what will happen to the remaining two, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, both of whom hold European passports, Efe news reported.

Cheung, Lui and Lam, all of whom work for publishing house Mighty Current owned by Gui Minhai and Bo, and which specialises in books containing sordid details of the ruling Communist Party of China and its leaders, besides its internal power struggles, will be released on bail for displaying “good attitude” although the investigation against them will continue.

It is not known yet whether they will be allowed to return home to Hong Kong or will need to remain on the Chinese mainland.

The five booksellers who disappeared under mysterious circumstances from Hong Kong and Thailand, have been charged by the Chinese police of selling unlicensed books in China, allegedly under the orders of Gui Minhai, who is considered the mastermind of the operation.

All of them reappeared in Chinese custody and confessed on television, a common practice in the country and widely criticised by human rights groups, who claim they are done under coercion.

According to police, Cheung, Lam and Liu had sent 4,000 copies of unlicensed books to 380 buyers in mainland China since October 2014, under orders from Gui.

It is still not known what Bo is accused of but the editor said in a televised confession that he had gone to China voluntarily to assist the authorities in an investigation into his company.

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