Wednesday, 22 June 2011

China artist Ai Weiwei released on bail

Ai Weiwei, right, shakes hands with foreign journalists gathered 
outside his home in Beijing, China, 22 June, 2011  
Ai Weiwei said he was in good health, but could not talk to the media about his case

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has returned home having been freed after more than two months' detention.

He was bailed late on Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion, Xinhua news agency said.

An outspoken critic of China's human rights record, his arrest in April prompted a global campaign for his release. The 54-year-old said he was back home and in good health in a phone interview with the BBC. "I am already home, released on bail, I can't talk to media but I am well, thanks for all the media attention," he said.

Mr Ai was detained as he boarded a Beijing flight bound for Hong Kong.

Perhaps most famous for helping design the Bird's Nest stadium that became the centre-piece for Beijing's 2008 Olympics, he was held at a secret location without access to a lawyer.
Beijing alleged the artist had evaded taxes and destroyed evidence; his supporters said the charges were motivated by his activism.

'I'm out'
Xinhua reported that Mr Ai - who, it said, was suffering from a "chronic illness" - had offered to repay the taxes and would be released because of "his good attitude in confessing his crimes".

Police said the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, the company that handles the business aspects of Mr Ai's career, had evaded "a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents", said Xinhua.

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