China hit back at UN criticism on lack of transparency on the case involving Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo and his associates, saying that Lee was assisting a police enquiry and did not want publicity.
“Lee repeatedly clarified that he voluntarily went back to mainland China for assisting in the investigation, and is safe and sound,” China’s mission in Geneva said in a statement Wednesday, Reuters reported.
“Lee hopes that the general public respect his personal choice and privacy and do not hype up attention on the case.”
Another bookseller, Gui Minhai, had left the country in 2004 after being handed a suspended sentence for killing a student by drunk driving, but gave himself up to police last October, and was also involved in other crimes, the statement said.
Foreign diplomats have said Gui and Lee were believed to have been abducted or coerced from Thailand and Hong Kong respectively, and taken to China. Three others also went missing.
Lee holds a British passport, while Gui is a naturalized Swedish citizen.
China said Gui’s case was complicated and involved all the other booksellers, who were being held for investigation.
The statement came a day after UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein voiced concern over the missing Hong Kong booksellers, and also urged China to release all lawyers detained in a crackdown that began last July.
China said all the cases raised by Zeid involved criminal activities and had nothing to do with restricting rights.
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