Three Hong Kong booksellers earlier reported missing, feared kidnapped by Chinese agents, could be released on bail within days.
They are among five people from Mighty Current Media Co. who disappeared last year and later emerged in the mainland.
Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee will be free in a few days, pending an investigation by the Chinese authorities, Apple Daily reports, citing the Hong Kong police.
The information was relayed by Guangdong Interpol officials.
The three are suspected to be involved in a case relating to fellow bookseller Gui Minhai, who surfaced in the mainland after being reported missing in Thailand, saying he surrendered to Chinese police for a 2003 traffic accident.
A fifth colleague, Lee Bo, told Hong Kong police officials in an arranged meeting on Monday that he is assisting in an investigation into “a certain Gui” and denied having been kidnapped.
Lee, a British passport-holder later said in a TV interview that he was giving up his UK residency because his circumstances have made life difficult for him and his wife.
Hong Kong police said the families of Lui, Cheung and Lam have been informed about their impending release and that investigations into the missing person reports involving the five booksellers are continuing.
However, the three will not be able to return to Hong Kong until they are given their home return permits.
All five are being held outside Guangdong province, the report said, citing police sources.
Only Gui is in detention while the four others have “limited freedom”.
Bruce Lui, a senior lecturer of journalism in Hong Kong Baptist University, said China allows a defendant to post bail pending an investigation.
The arrangement is similar to posting bail in Hong Kong for temporary freedom.
In theory, Lui, Cheung and Lam are free to leave the mainland and reenter under their bail terms, he said.
Those conditions might include a gag order, prohibiting them to discuss their case.
“They would be putting themselves, as well as their families, at risk if they do not comply,” Lui said.
Political commentator Johnny Lau told news website hk01.com he expects the three to be set free in the coming days in order to create a more “relaxed” atmosphere ahead of the meetings of the Chinese legislature and the powerful political advisory body.
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