A Hong Kong bookseller is doubling down on his claim that he returned to China voluntarily after being reported missing last year in an alleged abduction orchestrated by Beijing.
Lee Bo told Hong Kong police in an arranged meeting on Monday that he was not kidnapped or taken to the mainland against his will but gave no further details, Apple Daily reports.
Lee agreed to the meeting organised by the Guandgong interpol office at the request of the Hong Kong government.
Two officers from the Hong Kong police crime unit and an immigration official traveled to a location outside Guangdong provoince.
The hour-long interview, which took place in a guesthouse, came with the understanding that Lee would not be asked about his pending cases in the mainland, the report said.
Lee said he was “free and safe at the moment” and was assisting in an unspecified investigation into a “person named Gui”.
He said he plans to return to Hong Kong once the investigation is completed.
Sources said Lee might have been referring to fellow Hong Kong publisher Gui Minhai, who earlier said he had voluntarily surrendered to Chinese authorities for a 2003 traffic conviction.
Gui had been reported missing in Thailand in October, believed kidnapped by Chinese agents.
He was later paraded by the authorities on national television. He initially said he was assisting in an investigation.
Lee and Gui are among five men from Mighty Current Media Ltd., a Hong Kong bookseller that publishes material critical of the Chinese elite, who mysteriously disappeared last year.
Lee asked the Hong Kong police to cancel any pending cases against him relating to his disappearance and that his exact location not be disclosed, according to an official press release.
Sources said Lee and Gui returned to the mainland to help in an investigation into missing confidential documents relating to national security.
Lee, who holds a British passport, has extensive knowledge about the matter, they said.
In an interview aired by Phoenix Television Monday night, Lee said he has decided to give up his British residency because his case has made life complicated for him and his wife.
He said his wife agreed with his decision.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Office declined to comment on Lee’s remarks.
Democratic Party legislator James To said giving up citizenship is not a simple process.
The applicant must prove the act is voluntary and not made under duress and that he or she is in a proper state of mind, To said.
Political commentator Willy Lam said Beijing might allow Lee and the rest of his missing colleagues to return to Hong Kong to ease pressure on the National People’s Congress which begins its plenary session on Saturday.
However, Gui might be held to account and punished severely, he said.
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