Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, 55, arbitrarily detained in China and still awaiting a trial date after having been kidnapped in Thailand in 2015, was awarded the 2019 Tucholsky Prize on Friday November 15th by the Swedish PEN, an association promoting freedom of speech. Sweden’s Culture and Democracy Minister Amanda Lind handed out the prize despite open threats from Chinese Ambassador in Sweden Gui Congyou.
“The case of Gui Minhai reminds us that a citizen of the European Union can be kidnapped and detained for four years without any valid reason and in total impunity by Beijing,” denounces Erik Halkjaer, the president of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Sweden. Cédric Alviani, head of Reporters Without Border (RSF) East Asia Bureau, urges the international community "to increase pressure on China to obtain the release of Gui Minhai and all other journalists and bloggers detained."
Gui Minhai is the last detained of the five “Causeway Bay booksellers” that were abducted by the Chinese regime in 2015. He is currently detained for alleged "illegal business operations,'' "disclosure of state secrets " and for "illegally spending time with foreign diplomats." In 2017, the Chinese authorities prevented him from seeing a doctor proposed by his embassy despite symptoms corresponding to a serious neurological disease.
RSF has called multiple times for Gui Minhai’s release, and has submitted his case to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD).
China, with at least 120 journalists behind bars, ranks 177th out of 180 countries and territories in the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2019. In stark contrast, Sweden is ranked 3rd.