Publisher detained in China ‘confesses’, blames Sweden

Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee stands next to a placard with picture of missing bookseller Gui Minhai, in front of his book store in Hong Kong as the protesters are marching to the Chinese central government's liaison office. Sweden has condemned China's "brutal" detention of a Swedish citizen who sold politically sensitive books and whose seizure while he traveled with diplomats stunned Western governments. (File photo/AP)
Updated 10 February 2018
0

Publisher detained in China ‘confesses’, blames Sweden

SHANGHAI: Detained book publisher Gui Minhai has surfaced nearly three weeks after disappearing into police custody in China, confessing wrongdoing and accusing his adopted country Sweden of manipulating him like a “chess piece.”
It was unclear whether the Chinese-born Gui’s statement was made under duress, but video of his confession shows him flanked by two police officers and a close friend said the remarks were “not to be believed.”
The Chinese-born Gui, 53, was arrested on a train to Beijing last month while traveling with two Swedish diplomats — the second time he has vanished into Chinese custody in murky circumstances.
Sweden, the EU and the US have called for Gui’s release, with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Monday calling his seizure “brutal.”
But Gui accused Sweden of “sensationalizing” his case.
“I have stated that I do not want Sweden to continue to sensationalize what has happened to me. But obviously, Sweden has not stopped doing so,” he said in the video.
“I felt that it was necessary for me to come out and say something.”
The video emerged from an “interview” set up on Friday with handpicked Chinese media, according to their reports.
Gui was traveling by train to Beijing from the eastern China city of Ningbo, where doctors had said he may have the neurological disease ALS.
He was to see a Swedish specialist in the capital but was arrested aboard the train.
Gui said Friday that Swedish officials had pressured him to leave China despite being barred from doing so due to pending legal cases.
“I have declined a few times. But because they were instigating me non-stop, I fell for it,” said Gui.
“Looking back, I might have become Sweden’s chess piece. I broke the law again under their instigation. My wonderful life has been ruined and I would never trust the Swedish ever again.”
Gui was one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders who disappeared in 2015 and resurfaced in mainland China.
Gui was on holiday in Thailand at the time.
He eventually re-emerged at an undisclosed Chinese location, confessing to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books into mainland China.
China has given scant details on his arrest but acknowledged on Tuesday that Gui was in custody under criminal law, without offering further specifics.
Chinese criminal suspects often appear in videotaped “confessions” that rights groups say sometimes bear the hallmarks of official arm-twisting.
Gui’s family members could not immediately be reached for comment.
But dissident poet Bei Ling, a friend of Gui’s, said there was “no doubt” that the publisher wanted to seek medical treatment overseas.
“I’m very shocked and very sad. It’s difficult to listen to him say these things,” Bei told AFP.
“I believe his statements, made under circumstances without freedom ... (are) not to be believed.”
“How can we believe whether the words of someone who is oppressed — like a prisoner — are real?” he said, adding that Gui looked “unwell.”
Gui’s relatives have previously expressed fears that he will receive a lengthy prison sentence, jeopardizing his health.
But on Friday, Gui said no doctors had diagnosed him with ALS, adding, “I think Sweden has exaggerated this and manipulated (me).”
“I have seen through the Swedish government. If they continue to create troubles, I may consider giving up my Swedish citizenship,” he said.


Guantanamo prison takes on geriatric airs

Updated 35 min 45 sec ago
0

Guantanamo prison takes on geriatric airs

  • The population still imprisoned at the military base in Cuba range from middle-aged to elderly
  • With a budget of $12 million, a prison annex has been transformed into a public hospital, complete with modern equipment

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba: The controversial Guantanamo Bay prison still houses 40 aging inmates — and with no plans to close it, many of them will probably remain there until they die.
The population still imprisoned at the military base in Cuba range from middle-aged to elderly — the oldest inmate is 71 — so the prison with a history of torture has taken on some airs of a geriatric facility.
The US Army — directed to ensure Guantanamo can stay open at least another 25 years — has revamped parts of the institution home to terror suspects to include a dedicated medical center and operating rooms.
“There has been a lot of thought put into what preparing for an aging detainee population looks like and what infrastructure we need to have in place to do that safely and humanely,” said Anne Leanos, the public affairs director for Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
With a budget of $12 million, a prison annex has been transformed into a public hospital, complete with a radiology room equipped with an MRI scanner, as well as an emergency room and three-bed intensive care unit.
During a journalist visit to the new clinic, a walker sits in the corner of a room, which has a hospital bed, wheelchair and medical equipment akin to any other infirmary.
But there is no window, and wire mesh serves as a partition, recalling that this is still very much a detention center.
Congress will not allow sick prisoners to travel to the United States for treatment: Guantanamo inmates are considered highly dangerous by the government, which accuses them of participating in various attacks including those of September 11.
No prisoner needs a wheelchair yet — but if the need arises, the clinic is prepared with ramps.
Patients suffer from ailments common for their age: diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal diseases and motor disorders.
The second-floor psychiatric ward is equipped with two cells converted into consultation rooms.
A third, completely empty cell is padded and serves as the isolation room for prisoners experiencing psychotic episodes.
Like any staff deployed to Guantanamo, prison psychiatrists usually stay just nine to 12 months on site, limiting the scope of their interaction with prisoners.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visits Guantanamo about four times a year to make sure the prison is complying with detention standards and to assess detainees’ treatment.
Since the infamous detention center opened in 2002, nine inmates have died: seven committed suicide, according to the military, while one died of cancer and another had a heart attack.
The largest contingent — 26 inmates — at the military complex have never been charged with anything, but are considered too dangerous to be released.
One “highly compliant” inmate was on a “non-religious fast,” at the moment of the visit — a euphemism used at the prison to describe hunger strikes prisoners regularly observe in protest.
Acts of rebellion are fairly common — and base commander Admiral John Ring said one inmate was currently under disciplinary action.
“These are the ones that could not be released,” said Ring. “Many of these gentlemen are still at war with the United States.
“Any act of resistance, no matter how small — they are still fighting the war through these minor acts of resistance.”