The Immigration Department said on Thursday that it had found insufficient evidence to prosecute bookseller Lee Bo who left Hong Kong without a home return permit.
Immigration chief Erick Tsang said officers had finished investigating the case, but found no grounds to prosecute Lee after consulting the Department of Justice.
The bookseller disappeared from Hong Kong in December 2015 and surfaced on the mainland weeks later. There was no official record of him leaving Hong Kong and that led to speculation that Lee was forcibly taken across the border by mainland authorities.
Four other people linked to the Causeway Bay bookshop, in which Lee was a partner, also disappeared around the same time.The store sold books critical of or embarassing to mainland leaders.
But when Lee returned to Hong Kong later, he claimed he travelled to the mainland using his own means and didn't need a home return permit.
Talking to the media during the department’s annual briefing, Tsang said there were close to 10,000 claims from asylum seekers currently waiting to be processed.
He said his officers had dealt with over 6,000 but more than 13,000 new applications came in last year.
Tsang also revealed that overseas visitors holding electronic passports will be able to depart from Hong Kong through a self-service machine starting from the second quarter of this year.
Immigration Department won't prosecute Lee Bo
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