Detained Hong Kong bookseller Gui wins Swedish free speech prize

(Adds Chinese ministry comment)

STOCKHOLM, April 20 (Reuters) - A bookseller detained in

China for publishing books on the personal lives of President Xi

Jinping and other Communist Party leaders has won a prize for

free speech and press freedom awarded by a Swedish media


Gui Minhai is one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went

missing in 2015 and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody.

The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

Awarding him the annual Anna Politkovskaya Memorial Prize,

Publicistklubben said Gui had "despite personal risk ... shown

great courage as a publisher and challenged the narrow-mined

political agenda of the Chinese regime".

The arrest of the five men prompted fears Beijing may be

eroding the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong

Kong has been governed as a special administrative region since

its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Publicistklubben said Gui, a Chinese-born Swede, was

abducted in Thailand while on holiday and his family did not

know where he was being held.

"I am glad that this prize will focus attention on my

father's situation," the prize givers quoted his Swedish

daughter, Angela Gui, as saying.

"Hopefully, more attention ... can lead to more information

on his situation and health and that (he) will be treated


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked about the

award, said he had "no interest" in commenting on what

non-governmental groups got up to, and that he had no idea about

the prize. He did not comment further.

China has said its law enforcement officials have done

nothing illegal with regard to Gui.

The prize is named after Anna Politkovskaya, a Ukrainian

journalist best known for reporting on human rights violations

in Chechnya who was murdered in Moscow in 2006.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Additional reporting by Ben

Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by John Stonestreet)