A missing Hong Kong book publisher has appeared on China’s state-run TV, where he claimed he voluntarily turned himself in to mainland authorities over an alleged crime.
Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national, disappeared in October after failing to come home from vacation in Taiwan.
China’s state-run news agency Xinhua said he was involved in a fatal car crash that killed a female college student in the eastern city of Ningbo. The agency also reported he had fled under a suspended two-year jail term.
“I am taking my legal responsibilities, and am willing to accept any punishment,” Gui told CCTV, according to Xinhua.
He also called on Swedish authorities not to get involved in the case.
“Even though I am a Swedish national, I truly feel that I am still Chinese and my roots are still in China,” Gui said. “So I hope that the Swedish side would respect my personal choice, rights and privacy and let me solve my own problems.”
Many activists believe Gui and other missing book sellers were detained by Chinese authorities for links to books critical of China’s ruling Communist Party. Gui in particular is suspected of being linked to an unpublished book about the private life of Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Last Sunday, thousands of protestors took to the streets to demonstrate against the disappearance of these booksellers.
Each of the five missing book sellers is involved with the Mighty Current Publishing House or its Hong Kong affiliate Causeway Bay Books, which is known for selling titles banned in the mainland.
Hong Kong enjoys a certain level of autonomy from Beijing, but activist say the recent cases shed light on a clear violation of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.
A spokesperson for the Swedish Foreign Ministry said it was seeking clarification from China over Gui’s case.
Hong Kong authorities say they are investigating all the missing people’s cases.