Hong Kong radical candidate makes strong showing in vote
The cases have also garnered global attention because Lee holds a British passport and another of the missing Gui Minhai has Swedish nationality, with both of those governments pressuring China for information on the men.
In his interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix television, Lee stuck to a story he had previously given in letters sent back to his family that he had gone to the mainland of his own accord.
Mighty Current's books on political scandals and intrigue involving China's communist leaders are popular with mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong, despite their being banned on the mainland.
Student Leung is taking on six other contenders for the New Territories East seat in the north of Hong Kong, including candidates from pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps. "They treat me very well", Lee said, according to Reuters.
On February 12, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Lee was "involuntarily removed" from Hong Kong, and accused China of a "serious breach" of the treaty, under which it took control of the city. He said the booksellers had "explored ways to circumvent official inspections in China", including changing the books' covers or concealing them in bags.
Four of the five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing in October appeared on Chinese television confirming for the first time that they had been detained for "illegal book trading" in mainland China.
A Hong Kong activist who seeks independence from China and has been charged over recent street battles with police stood for office Sunday in a by-election that highlights the city's political faultlines.
Sources said Lee and Gui returned to the mainland to help in an investigation into missing confidential documents relating to national security.
"I didn't want anyone to know, and I didn't want to leave any immigration records", he said.
Britain has not yet been granted consular access to Lee, despite formal requests, a representative of the British consulate in Hong Kong said on Monday.
Monday's report said Gui had ordered his three associates Lam, Lui and Cheung to mail 4,000 books to buyers from across different Chinese cities since 2014.
Two officers from the Hong Kong police crime unit and an immigration official traveled to a location outside Guangdong provoince. Another of the booksellers, Lee Bo, appears to have indicated to Phoenix TV that he wishes to give up his British residency and thus British citizenship for reasons he did not make entirely clear. "I deeply acknowledge my mistakes and am willing to be penalised", he added.
Some politicians have expressed scepticism about the situation and have said Lee may have been pressured to try to erase perceptions of Chinese authorities carrying out illegal cross-border enforcement operations.
"I will defend Hong Kong people's interests and Hong Kong people's rights", he told reporters.