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Authors Guild Joins with Groups Urging Release of Hong Kong Booksellers

Hong Kong police have confirmed that three of the five men feared to be in Chinese custody for their association with the Hong Kong–based publishing house Mighty Current are in fact under investigation by Chinese police for “illegal activities.” The five men have been missing for several months.

The announcement confirms suspicions that all five men are in mainland China. One man had appeared on Chinese television on January 17 to make an apparently forced confession that he had returned voluntarily to aid with an investigation; a day later, Chinese authorities confirmed that another was detained on the mainland.

Mighty Current, known for publishing books that are critical of the Chinese government, was accused on January 5 by a Chinese Communist Party publication of “stirring up troubles on the mainland.” The first of the men went missing in October 2015.

On January 11, the Authors Guild joined a number of other publishing industry and free expression groups to issue a statement expressing their “extreme concern” about the disappearances and calling for the release of all five men.

Today, these groups, along with a few additional organizations, have reconvened to publish and send the letter below to Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, noting that “this case has sent a terrifying message to writers, publishers and booksellers in Hong Kong that tackling politically sensitive topics can imperil an individual’s freedom and safety,” and urging Mr. Leung to push China to immediately release the five men in its custody.

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