China frees dissident artist Ai Weiwei
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, detained since April, was released on bail on Wednesday, state media said, citing Beijing police.world Updated: Jun 22, 2011 21:33 IST
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, detained since April, was released on bail on Wednesday, state media said, citing Beijing police.
The agency, in a late evening announcement, said the artist had been freed "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from."
Ai was detained at Beijing airport on April 3, igniting an outcry about China's tightening grip on dissent, which has triggered the detention and arrest of dozens of rights activists and dissidents.
Police told state media last month that a company Ai controlled, The Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., had evaded a "huge amount" of taxes and destroyed accounting documents.
But family members and supporters said the outspoken 54-year-old artist was a victim of a crackdown on political dissent that intensified after overseas Chinese websites in February called for protests in China to emulate anti-authoritarian uprisings in the Arab world.
Ai's sister said she had no information yet about his release.
"There are these rumours that he has been let out on bail but we haven't heard anything yet. We haven't heard from Lu Qing (Ai Weiwei's wife), but Ai Weiwei is not home yet," Gao Ge told Reuters by telephone.
Repeated calls to Ai's wife, Lu Qin, went unanswered.
Xinhua cited the police as saying that the decision to free Ai also came "in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded."