HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader says he’s “highly concerned” about the recent disappearances of five booksellers specializing in titles critical of mainland China’s leadership.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also told reporters Monday that there’s no evidence so far to support suspicions that security agents from the mainland were involved in the disappearances.
Five people associated with publisher Mighty Current and its Causeway Bay Bookstore have vanished in recent months.
The latest and most startling case came last week, when Lee Bo, a company shareholder, failed to return home after paying a visit to a book storage warehouse.
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers said earlier that they were pressing the government for answers after a fifth employee of a publisher specializing in books critical of China’s ruling communists went missing.
Lawmaker Albert Ho said Sunday that the city is “shocked and appalled” by the disappearance of Lee Bo. Like the four others who disappeared late last year, he too is associated with publisher Mighty Current.
The company and its Causeway Bay bookstore are known for gossipy titles about Chinese political scandals and other sensitive issues that are popular with visiting tourists from the mainland.
The company’s co-owner is among those missing.
Acting Secretary for Security John Lee told reporters that police are “actively” investigating the case.
The disappearances have raised fears that Beijing is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory that enjoys civil liberties such as freedom of the press that don’t exist on the mainland.