Wednesday, June 22, 2011

China releases dissident artist Ai Weiwei

High-profile artist Ai Weiwei has been released on bail in China after nearly three months in detention, but says he is unable to talk about his ordeal.
The influential dissident was arrested in April and accused of tax evasion.
The detention of the famous avant-garde artist sparked an international outcry, with the United States, Australia, Britain, France and Germany joining Amnesty International and other rights
groups in calling for his release.
His supporters said the arrest had nothing to do with tax but was because of his support for activist campaigns in China and his criticism of the ruling Communist Party.
Ai investigated school collapses in the 2008 quake in the south-western province of Sichuan, and launched a "citizen's probe" into a Shanghai fire that killed 58 people in November last year.
The state-run Xinhua wire service said Ai was released partly because he was willing to pay the tax he owed, partly because he had a "good attitude in confessing his crimes", and partly because he suffers from a chronic disease.
Contacted by the media at home after his release, Ai said he could not talk to reporters.
"I cannot give any interview, please. So sorry," he said. "I cannot say anything. I'm on bail."
Born in 1957, Ai came to global prominence after contributing to the design of Beijing's Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium, and his work was shown in London's Tate Modern gallery this year.
He was taken into custody at Beijing's airport in April during the government's biggest crackdown on activists in years.
John Connell is the organiser of a protest group made up of Australian artists calling for Ai's release.
He says the artist's experience is similar to that of many other imprisoned Chinese dissidents.
"The conditions of many journalists and thinkers in China is not a free one, so Ai Weiwei's release, we can look on that as a positive, but it's also a further call for more action."

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