China hit back at U.N. criticism of its human rights record on Tuesday, saying a group of detained lawyers had committed serious economic crimes and missing Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo was assisting a police enquiry and did not want publicity.
"Lee repeatedly clarified that he voluntarily went back to mainland China for assisting in the investigation, and is safe and sound," China's mission in Geneva said in a statement. "Lee hopes that the general public respect his personal choice and privacy and do not hype up attention on the case."
Another bookseller, Gui Minhai, had left the country in 2004 after being handed a suspended sentence for killing a student by drunk driving, but gave himself up to police last October, and was also involved in other crimes, the statement said.
Foreign diplomats have said Gui and Lee were believed to have been abducted or coerced from Thailand and Hong Kong respectively, and taken to China. Three others also went missing.
China said Gui's case was complicated and involved all the other booksellers, who were being held for investigation.