Reuters International

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Two men who held senior positions at Hong Kong political magazines were jailed in China on Tuesday for illegal business operations, bribery and bid-rigging, a lawyer said.

Their sentences come after five Hong Kong booksellers from a shop that specialised in gossipy books about China's leaders went missing and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody, raising concern about free speech in the city.

On Tuesday, the Shenzhen Nanshan District Court sentenced Wang Jianmin, 63, to five years and three months in jail and Guo Zhongxiao, 41, to two years and three months, Wang's lawyer, Chen Nansha, said.

The court published brief details of the verdict on its website in line with Chen's account.

The men worked for the political magazines New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face. Wang was a magazine founder and Guo a chief editor.

Wang has a U.S. passport and a Hong Kong identity card, according to his lawyer.

It was not immediately clear what passport Guo had but he was born in mainland China and also had a Hong Kong identity card, the lawyer said.

Both were arrested in mainland China in May 2014.

Chen declined to say whether he believed the case was political.

The Shenzhen Nanshan District Court, district government and foreign affairs office did not immediately respond to a request comment. The Hong Kong police said arrests in mainland China were outside of their jurisdiction.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It has greater freedoms and separate laws from the mainland under a "one country, two systems" framework agreed with the British when they handed back their former colony in 1997.

(Reporting by Tris Pan, Lindsy Long and Sharon Shi; Writing by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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