Hong Kong bookseller disappearances

Missing booksellers mystery: CY Leung vows Hong Kong will press on with investigation, urges Lee Bo to come forward

Chief executive’s call comes despite wife of missing bookstore boss withdrawing police report, saying he’s been in touch

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 January, 2016, 12:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 January, 2016, 4:55pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said investigations into the disappearance of shareholders and staff of Causeway Bay Books would continue, reiterating that the government was highly concerned about the situation.

“I hope anyone, especially Mr Lee Bo, can contact the police and provide information,” Leung said after the Executive Council meeting today.

Leung did not comment on the latest developments, including the letter allegedly written by Lee that was released to the media last night, and the withdrawal of the request for help by Lee’s wife.

He declined to disclose further details.

Watch: Missing bookseller prompts protests in Hong Kong

Lee’s wife had approached the police on Monday afternoon and withdrawn her request for police help, claiming Lee had been in contact, it has been learned.

The Post learned that Mrs Lee went to North Point police station and told officers that a friend of her husband’s had been able to contact him yesterday.

“She wanted to withdraw her case,” said a government source, who, however, added the police would continue the investigation.

It was not immediately known if Lee was in Hong Kong or in Shenzhen, or if he was safe or not.

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Last night, the Central News Agency published a handwritten letter said to be faxed by Lee to his bookstore colleague, saying: “I had to handle the issue concerned urgently and cannot let outsiders know it.”

In the letter, dated Sunday, Lee said he “returned to mainland my own way and am working with the concerned parties in an investigation which may take a while.”

He also asked the workers to continue operating the bookshop. “I am now very good and everything is normal,” he added.

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A police spokesman said: “Police will continue to maintain close liaison with the informant and follow up on the case in a proactive manner.”

The twist in the saga came hours after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged to follow up the case comprehensively. He also said it would be unacceptable and unconstitutional if mainland agencies had taken law enforcement action in Hong Kong.

Watch: Chief Executive CY Leung ‘very concerned’ about missing booksellers

It was the first comment on the case by Leung amid speculation that Lee Bo, a shareholder of Causeway Bay books, was taken out of Hong Kong by mainland law enforcement personnel.

Earlier on Monday, Lee’s wife told RTHK: “That Leung Chun-ying has come out to make comments shows that the government is highly concerned about the case.

“I have no other choice but to trust the police, the government, and ‘one country, two systems’.”

The case has unnerved industry insiders, who point out that the store is known for books critical of President Xi Jinping.

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“Among the books about Xi in the market, 70 to 80 per cent of them were published by Lee Bo,” said a publisher familiar with the matter, adding that many publishing houses that printed those books were either being controlled or in partnership with Lee. “I think [the disappearance] is not about the content of particular books, but about their attitude.”

Bookstore boss Lee Bo, 65, was last seen on Wednesday in the Chai Wan warehouse of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the shop. He vanished weeks after four associates went missing.