Detained Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee’s account of his months-long ordeal in mainland police custody, where he was interrogated without a lawyer and forced to confess to “illegal trading,” requires immediate action from Hong Kong authorities and the international community, PEN America said in a statement today.

Mr. Lam and four colleagues associated with Hong Kong’s Mighty Current publishing house disappeared between October and December 2015. Two of the men, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, were apparently abducted from Thailand and Hong Kong, while the others disappeared while making trips to the mainland. After a sustained international outcry, mainland Chinese police ultimately acknowledged that all of the men were being held in detention. In January, Mighty Current’s co-owner Gui Minhai appeared on Chinese state television to “confess” to distributing unlicensed books on the mainland. In February, Mr. Lam and his colleagues Lui Por and Cheung Chi-Ping appeared on Phoenix TV, a pro-Chinese Communist Party outlet, to also “confess” to distributing unlicensed books on the mainland. Lui Por, Cheung Chi-Ping, and Lee Bo all reappeared in Hong Kong in March 2016, and Lee Bo made a public statement claiming that he had traveled to the mainland voluntarily, despite the fact that his home return permit (a document needed for travel) had been found in his home in Hong Kong. Mr. Lam returned to Hong Kong earlier this week, and during the press conference held today, also reported that Lee Bo told him he had been taken by force from Hong Kong. Gui Minhai remains in mainland police custody, and has not been seen or heard from since February.

“Lam Wing-kee’s statement today confirms what everyone has long suspected: Mainland Chinese authorities are responsible for the forced disappearance and illegal detention of the Hong Kong booksellers,” said Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of PEN’s free expression programs. “This egregious and unprecedented breach of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy and of international law requires a swift condemnation from the international community. In addition, Hong Kong authorities must act to protect Lam Wing-kee and his colleagues from further retribution by Chinese authorities, and should renew their requests to Chinese authorities for information about Gui Minhai’s whereabouts and health.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression at home and abroad. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: +1 646-779-4830, [email protected]