Bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who claimed he was kidnapped by Chinese agents in 2015 for selling books banned across the border, left Hong Kong in April for a new life in Taiwan, expressing fears about the government’s controversial extradition proposals.
Opposition lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who accompanied the former manager of Causeway Bay Books to the airport, said he decided a month ago to open a bookshop in Taiwan. “He is extremely worried and convinced he is at the top of the list of those who could be extradited,” Mo said. Lam, who was still wanted across the border, had “absolutely no faith in the mainland’s legal system”, she added.
A source close to Lam, 63, said his move had received the blessing of Taiwanese authorities. Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council told local media that Lam was permitted to remain for one month and could apply for a work visa or long-term stay.
“Hong Kong is his hometown and he would not leave until he had to,” legal scholar Tseng Chien-yuan, who was asked by Lam to be his emergency contact for immigration purposes said.
Lam was among five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared in late 2015. He reappeared in June 2016 and claimed security agents in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, had put him through eight months of “mental torture”. Mainland authorities have accused him of illegal operations and jumping bail, and he is still wanted for criminal investigation.
Lawmaker and former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said Lam’s concerns were unfounded since selling books was not illegal in Hong Kong and could not trigger extradition across the border.
But Mo, convenor of the pro-democracy camp’s meetings, said their worries remained. “Mainland authorities can easily set up Lam by charging him with a different crime,” she said.
There is also growing opposition to the bill in Taiwanese political circles. Three lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party expressed fears at a press conference that opening up extradition to the mainland would threaten the security of Taiwanese people in Hong Kong.
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