Hong Kong police say they have requested a meeting with bookseller Lee Bo, whose mysterious disappearance last month caused international uproar, after Chinese authorities confirmed his whereabouts.
In a statement released late Monday, police said they had received a letter from the Public Security Department in neighboring Guangdong province stating that they “understood that Lee Po is in the mainland,” using a different English spelling of his name.
Also enclosed was a letter from Lee to the Hong Kong government, which the statement said was similar to one received by his wife January 17 that was widely reported on in local media.
Confirmation of Lee’s whereabouts comes after his business associate Gui Minhai appeared weeping on Chinese state television Sunday, months after he went missing in Thailand, apparently confessing to his involvement in a 2003 hit and run incident.
Lee went missing on December 30 and was last seen near his company’s warehouse. He holds a British passport but the British Consulate in Hong Kong didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Three other associates of the publisher Mighty Current have gone missing. It specializes in books often critical of China’s ruling elite and also owns a bookstore, Causeway Bay Books.
According to Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho, the publishing company was said to have been working on a book detailing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s love affairs.
Their disappearance has sparked angry protests in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy politicians believe Lee was seized in the city by Chinese security forces.
According to a translation of the letter published in the South China Morning Post, Lee said he had voluntarily traveled to China to assist with investigations.
In it, Lee also describes Gui as a “morally unacceptable person” with many facades, who “caused me trouble.”
However, in an interview with Hong Kong news magazine Next before his disappearance, Lee describes Gui as a “friend” and said his colleague had been threatened by the Chinese government.
CNN could not authenticate the letter and could not reach Lee’s wife.