Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Sweden is defending sentenced bookseller Gui Minhai after a court in China sentenced him to 10 years in prison on Tuesday.
Gui, who was likely kidnapped in 2015 while vacationing in Pattaya, Thailand, and may have been tortured while in Chinese custody, was charged with "illegally providing intelligence" to foreign governments, a claim that drew scrutiny from watchdog organizations on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday the court in the Chinese city of Ningbo claimed the Chinese-born Gui had applied to restore his Chinese citizenship in 2018, implying Gui had given up his Swedish passport.
Sweden's foreign ministry is challenging the Chinese claims and said Gui is still a Swedish citizen, Hong Kong Free Press reported Tuesday.
"Swedish citizenship can only be renounced after an examination and a decision by the Swedish Migration Agency," the ministry said.
Peter Dahlin, a Swedish national who previously appeared in a televised "confession" in China, told the Hong Kong-based news service Beijing is punishing Gui on trumped-up charges.
"The charge is ludicrous. The only 'state secrets' that Gui may have is knowledge about how Chinese agents kidnapped him in Thailand and about the torture he has endured after being returned to China," Dahlin said.
Gui was an owner of disbanded Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, which sold books banned in China. The publications may have included salacious gossip regarding China's leadership.
Following what could have been a Chinese abduction in Thailand in 2015, Gui was released in October 2017. Gui was seeking medical attention in January 2018 when he was arrested again.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the Chinese court's decision on Tuesday.
"This case sets a dangerous precedent in which Beijing has assumed the right to kidnap a [European Union] citizen, hold him arbitrarily for more than four years and then give him a jail term that amounts to a death sentence in the light of his state of health," said Erik Halkjaer, the president of RSF Sweden.
Gui, 55, may have a chronic medical condition, including a neurological ailment. Chinese authorities prevented him from seeing a doctor in 2017, according to RSF.