Three of the five missing booksellers could return to Hong Kong in a matter of days for “good attitudes”, Chinese media reports.
An article published by Chinese media outlet The Paper quotes a police source, who said Lam Wing-kei, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Bo were detained for helping boss Gui Minhai illegally distribute unlicensed books in mainland China, Ming Pao reports.
Starting from October 2014, the men allegedly distributed some 4,000 books to 380 mainland customers. The books were apparently disguised with altered covers, and sent through the postal service to circumvent customs inspections.
For buyers who couldn’t be reached by the postal service, Causeway Bay Books manager Lam Wing-kei reportedly confessed that he had help from mainland-based friends, who forwarded the books for him.
The Paper’s report also alleged that the Mighty Current employees set up a mainland bank account for the purpose of receiving payment from mainland customers.
According to The Paper, the three men confessed to acting under Gui’s influence, with Mighty Current general manager Lui Bo saying “[Gui] dragged me down crime’s path”.
In addition, Lam apparently said the content of Mighty Current’s gossipy tabloid-style books about China’s elite was a combination of complete fabrications and content Gui had plagiarised from the internet.
Cheung, Gui’s assistant, allegedly admitted to doctoring the covers of the books, as well as bringing the profits from the illicit book sales from mainland China back to Hong Kong under Gui’s orders.
For showing “good attitude” by confessing, The Paper claimed Lui, Cheung and Lam could be granted bail pending trial, and may be back in Hong Kong “in a matter of days”.
There was no update in The Paper on the fate of Lee Bo, who was the fifth Mighty Current bookseller to disappear. Lee’s widely believed abduction from Hong Kong brought international attention to the Mighty Current case; previous reports claim the bookseller had returned to China “voluntarily” to assist in an investigation on Gui, whom he testified against.
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