Detained book publisher Gui Minhai on Friday accused the Swedish government of using him as a “chess piece” to make trouble for Beijing, claiming in an interview arranged by Chinese authorities that he did not want to leave the country.
Speaking at a detention facility in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, he said: “The year 2018 is election year in Sweden … some politicians might be using me for political gains. I can’t rule out that some are trying to use me to create trouble for the Chinese government.”
The 53-year-old, mainland-born but a naturalised Swedish citizen, went on: “I have seen through the Swedish government. If they continue to create troubles, I may consider giving up my Swedish citizenship.”
Gui Minhai made the accusations in a 20-minute interview with several Hong Kong, Taiwanese and mainland media groups arranged by the Ministry of Public Security.
The Post agreed to the interview with strictly no conditions attached after it was approached by the ministry on Wednesday.
After the interview, the ministry issued a statement saying the authorities had imposed criminal coercive measures – a euphemism for detention – on Gui on suspicion that he leaked state secrets abroad.
Gui had been at the centre of the missing Hong Kong booksellers controversy of 2015 and was in detention in China until last October for a drink-driving offence. Little was known of his movements since then except that he was living in Ningbo.
But last month, reports emerged of his dramatic arrest by 10 plain-clothes policemen while he was on a train from Shanghai to Beijing, accompanied by two Swedish diplomats. The Swedish government said it was providing consular assistance to Gui as he needed medical help, and denounced his detention as a “brutal” act.
However, during the Friday interview, Gui gave a different account of his decision to seek the Swedish government’s help, claiming that its officials had worked on him unrelentingly to persuade him to leave China.