Missing Hong Kong publishers: Wife of Lee Bo says she has tracked down her husband in Chinese guesthouse

Mr Lee and four of his colleagues all vanished separately in October last year

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The Independent Online

In a twist to a case that has gripped Hong Kong and gained international attention, the wife of one of the five missing publishers of books banned by Beijing has now told police that she has tracked down her husband to a guesthouse in mainland China. 

Almost a month after British citizen Lee Bo, 65, vanished in Hong Kong, sparking a major controversy and suspicions he had been spirited to mainland China, his wife, Choi Ka-ping, claimed she had visited hin in an unnamed guesthouse across the border. Mr Lee was said to be in “healthy and in good spirits” and was, he said, assisting Chinese authorities in an investigation in the “capacity of a witness”.

Mr Lee’s role in the investigation is unknown, as is the event he witnessed. Border authorities have no record of his leaving Hong Kong. Many suspect that Chinese officials may have removed him from the territory.

The five missing men work for Mighty Currents, a publishing house known for books that are highly critical of the Communist Party. Mr Lee was chief editor. 

In a strangely stilted letter to the Hong Kong police department, reportedly delivered by his wife, Mr Lee wrote: “I, Lee Bo, a holder of Hong Kong identity card, have recently been reported to be missing for some time, and would like to make a clarification.

“I went to the mainland to co-operate in an investigation voluntarily. Solving a problem takes some time, it involves many of my private and company’s internal affairs, I hope all sectors of society can respect my personal privacy, and give my family and I some personal space. I earnestly request the police to protect my family, and not allow them to come under further outside harassment.”

“Firstly, I really appreciate the police’s concern. I have not been kidnapped and definitely have not been arrested on the mainland for [purchasing] prostitution. Over here I am free and safe. I hope the Hong Kong police will not continue to waste police resources on my case, and there’s no need to continue investigating. 

Almost three weeks ago, Mr Lee’s wife announced she had received a fax from her husband and withdrew a missing persons report with Hong Kong police. TheUK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has raised “deep concerns” with Chinese authorities over the welfare of Mr Lee.

Mr Lee and his colleagues, Gui Minhai, Cheung Ji-ping, Lui Bo and Lam Wing-kei, all vanished separately in October last year. 

Speaking earlier this month, pro-democracy Hong Kong MP Albert Ho said the city was “shocked and appalled” by the disappearances. “We have strong reason to believe that Mr Lee Bo was probably kidnapped and then smuggled back to the mainland for political investigation,” Mr Ho said.