Statement on the Sentencing of Gui Minhai
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1. 浙江省寧波市中級人民法院於二月二十四日宣判，裁定香港書店股東桂民海「為境外非法提供情報罪」罪成，判處有期徒刑十年，剝奪政治權利五年 。
2. 瑞典政府指桂民海身為瑞典公民，在瑞典外交人員不知悉及不在場的情況下被審判 。 外交人員亦無法檢閱其控罪或為他提供法律援助。
5. 同時，法政匯思亦相信是次判刑會進一步令本地作家及出版界噤若寒蟬。由於本港近乎所有主要連鎖書店皆由中聯辦持有並控制，出版業先已飽受審查，繼而自我審查， 是次判刑更令香港的言論自由雪上加霜。
1. On 24 February, the Hong Kong dissident publisher Gui Minhai was found guilty of “illegally providing intelligence for overseas entities” by the Ningbo Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang Province. Gui was sentenced to ten years in prison and deprivation of political rights for five years.
2. According to the Swedish government, Gui, a Swedish citizen, was tried without the knowledge or presence of Swedish diplomats in court. The latter were also unable to review his charges or offer him access to legal counsel.
3. Gui was one of five booksellers who operated Causeway Bay Bookstore, a Hong Kong publisher of tabloid-style political books about top Chinese Communist Party officials. Gui disappeared in Thailand in 2015, only to reappear a year later on mainland Chinese television confessing to a hit-and-run and “operating an illegal business”. Gui was released in 2017, but was again arrested by the Chinese police in 2018 while travelling to Beijing to seek medical help. Gui has been detained by the Chinese authorities ever since.
4. The Progressive Lawyers Group (the “PLG”) believes that Gui’s conviction and sentencing are highly suspect. Without consular access and, it seems, proper legal counsel, Gui was denied the fundamental right to due process and a fair trial. Unilateral and unsubstantiated claims by the Chinese authorities over Gui’s illegal acts reinforce the concerns that charges levelled against him were fabricated and that his trial was a sham.
5. The PLG also believes that the sentencing of Gui has a chilling effect on publishers and writers in Hong Kong. Considering the commercial reality that nearly all major bookstore chains in Hong Kong are owned and controlled by the Liaison Office of the Chinese Government and the resulting prevalence of censorship and self-censorship in the publishing industry, Gui’s treatment has dealt yet another blow to free expression in Hong Kong.
6. The PLG urges the Chinese Government to release Gui unconditionally and immediately. Furthermore, the PLG calls on the Hong Kong Government to protect its residents from flagrant violations of fundamental rights by mainland authorities and safeguard freedom of expression in Hong Kong under the One Country, Two Systems framework.
Progressive Lawyers Group
5 March 2020