Chinese state media say artist Ai Weiwei released from detainment


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China’s official state media reported Wednesday that artist Ai Weiwei has been released from detainment, though the exact terms of his release remain unclear. Ai had been in detainment since early April, when he was seized by Chinese authorities while trying to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong.

The Xinhua news agency, which is controlled by China’s Communist party, said that Ai is out on bail after admitting guilt over charges of tax evasion and agreeing to pay the amount he allegedly owes. Reuters separately confirmed the report with the artist’s sister, Gao Ge, who said she had spoken with Ai’s wife, Lu Qing.


‘I can tell you he’s returned to his own home,’ Gao told Reuters.

Chinese state media also reported that Ai’s release was related to a ‘chronic disease’ from which he suffers as well as a ‘good attitude in confessing his crimes.’

The Associated Press reported that Ai was being detained under residential surveillance somewhere outside Beijing.

Many of Ai’s supporters in China and the West believe his imprisonment was retaliation for the artist’s criticism of the Chinese government and his activism in the realms of free speech and human rights.

Ai has repeatedly criticized the government for its handling of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in which many children perished due to poorly constructed school facilities. He has taken to Twitter and other forms of social media to communicate his views.

News of his arrest in April caused a widespread show of support among artists and cultural leaders throughout the world.


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-- David Ng