Supporters Say Ai Weiwei Being-Treated Illegally by Chinese Authorities

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Chinese authorities are accusing prominent artist Ai Weiwei of evading “a huge amount” of tax, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported last Friday. It was the first clear explanation of what Ai Weiwei is being detained for, since police detained him on April 3rd.

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[Gao Ge, Ai Weiwei’s Sister]:
“This charge should not have been announced by the media, but by the prosecutors. However my family has not received any information. The handling of Ai’s case has been illegal since the start, and this illegality is continuing.”

State-run Xinhua reported Chinese police say Ai is evading taxes through a company he controls—Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd. The company is said to have, (quote) “intentionally destroyed accounting documents.” Ai’s wife Lu Qing says the company is registered under her name, and police should be looking for her for any problems, not Ai.

Beijing rights lawyer Mo Saoping says Chinese authorities are illegally detaining Ai. Xinhua claims he is under legal “residential surveillance” at an unknown location.

[Mo Shaoping, Beijing Rights Lawyer]:
“According to Chinese law, restricting his personal freedom and disallowing him to stay with his family, and completely restricting him at another location is another form of custody, and violates laws on residential surveillance.

Ai is a vocal critic of the Chinese regime. Governments and human rights groups around the world have condemned Ai’s arrest and are calling for his release. Many suspect he’s being targeted for his activism, not for the alleged economic crimes.

Ai’s supporters are now worried about four of his associates who went missing shortly after his own detention. They fear the four men, including the accountant for the Fake Design studio, are being held to build a case against Ai.

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