Swedish rights group honours China dissident book publisher

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Stockholm: Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born scholar and book publisher has been honoured by a Swedish press rights group for his struggle for freedom of speech in his native country.

“Gui Minhai has stood up for press freedom and challenged the regime’s attempt to scare (dissidents) to silence,” the club said on Wednesday.

Called Publicistklubben in Swedish, the organisation says it safeguards freedom of speech and promotes debate.

Each year, it bestows an award for reporters and publishers in memory of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and human rights activist.

Minhai is a 52-year-old Swedish citizen and a Hong Kong publisher who wrote political gossip books about Chinese leaders often from the Chinese Communist Party.

He was kidnapped in 2015 while on vacation in Thailand and has been detained at an undisclosed location in China ever since.

In 2016, Minhai appeared on Chinese television and was purportedly forced to confess a traffic violation that he “perhaps even didn’t commit,” Publicistklubben said in a statement.

“The regime’s scandalous treatment of Minhai must be forcefully condemned and given much greater attention,” said Bjorn Hager, chairman of Publicistklubben.

Contacted by AFP in Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said said he had “no interest in commenting on the activities of NGOs”.

In 2016, the organisation also honoured former editor- in-chief of the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily, Can Dundar and the paper’s Ankara chief Erdem Gul

—PTI