“Missing” since December, Lee Bo finally returned back home to Hong Kong earlier this week, denying that he was ever abducted in the first place, only to once again slip back into the mainland earlier today.
Ming Pao reports that at around 10:40 a.m., Lee crossed the border inside a van with cross-boundary plates. Speaking to reporters, he said that he would be visiting the graves of his wife’s ancestors in the mainland, and requested everyone to respect his privacy.
Lee is the most well-known member of a group of five managers and staff of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, a book store affiliated with the Mighty Current publishing house, known for publishing material and gossip critical of the central government in Beijing, that mysteriously went missing late last year, only to reappear in custody on the mainland earlier this year.
The last time we heard from Lee was in a state TV interview last month, in which he admitted to his guilt in participating in an “illegal book trading ring” on the mainland, that was headed by his colleague Gui Minhai. In the interview, Li also confessed to voluntarily sneaking into the mainland — leaving behind his passport at home — in order to assist in the investigation into Gui. He also declared that he would renounce his rights as a British citizen, in order to stop people from “hyping up” his situation.
Lee Bo quietly crossed the border back into Hong Kong on Wednesday. He met briefly with police, requesting that they drop his missing persons case and stating that he doesn’t require the assistance of either Hong Kong police or government. He said he had not been kidnapped, but refused to disclose any other details. He was then allowed to leave, according to the SCMP.
His requests match those made by his two colleagues — Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por — who returned to Hong Kong earlier this month just long enough to ask the police there to stop their investigations, before slipping back across the border into the mainland.
However, while Lee was in Hong Kong, he also gave more details to the media, pledging that he was getting out of the bookstore business for good.
“I will never publish and sell those books that make things up. The freedom of publication and of speech does not mean that people can make things up,” he said, via SCMP. “Like I have said earlier, there are still people doing this business in Hong Kong. I hope they won’t do it any more.”
Lee also went on to say that during his time in the mainland, he had witnessed China’s prosperity and development and felt “proud to be Chinese.” Though he said he would always reside in Hong Kong, it appears as though he has also developed a strong affinity for the mainland, staying at home for not even two days, following his three month departure, before popping back across the border.
He said that three of his colleagues have been released on bail — though Lam Wing-kee has not yet shown up back in Hong Kong. Gui Minhai, however, remains under police custody. He has been fingered by his colleagues as the mastermind behind the book trading business. He went missing from his apartment in Bangkok last October, only to reappear in January on CCTV, making a tearful confession to killing a student while drunk driving in the mainland over a decade ago.