The plot continues to thicken on the mysterious case of missing Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo who, according to a new report on Tuesday by a US-based Chinese news site, is being investigated on charges of blackmail.
Bowenpress claims that Lee is facing the consequences of attempting to extort money from “big names” in Chinese politics and business, for which he could be imprisoned for 3-10 years.
The report claims that blackmail is common practice in the Hong Kong publishing world — in return for holding revealing exposes back from publication, influential Chinese figures empty their pockets for bookstores. It also argues that since Lee failed to enter the mainland with his British passport, China is entitled to charge and punish him as a Chinese citizen.
“It is almost impossible for Lee Po to get away easily,” one anonymous source in the report said ominously.
Nonetheless, Bowenpress has failed to include details as to the people or amount of money involved in Lee’s case.
Guangdong police, along with Lee’s wife, have declined to comment.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying claimed no prior knowledge, reports SCMP. “There is no further information to provide,” he merely said.
But Jin Zhong, a friend of Lee, suspects it’s all bull: “This is one of the many stories the mainland authorities try to make up about what has happened to Lee and his associates.”
Incidentally, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein met yesterday with Chinese officials and pushed China “to ensure a fair and transparent procedure for these cases.”
Previously in this saga, the UK lost patience with China’s opaqueness and lowkey accused them of taking Lee to the mainland against his will. Also, all the other owners and staff of the controversial Causeway Bay Books were revealed to be the subjects of various mysterious investigations on the mainland.
Last we heard from Lee himself, he was inexplicably sticking to his tune of there being nothing to see here and snubbing Hong Kong authorities.