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    Chinese Authorities Hold Ai Weiwei Tax Evasion Hearing

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    NTDTelevision

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    Prominent artist Ai Weiwei continues to feel pressure from the Chinese regime. He and his art firm are facing a nearly two-million dollar lawsuit from authorities over taxes. Members of Ai's family and defence team say it's nothing more than an effort to keep them quiet.

    The wife of prominent Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei attended a closed-door hearing at Beijing's tax bureau on Thursday.

    China's authorities charged Ai with tax evasion and called for his firm, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, to pay nearly $2 million dollars in back taxes and fines.

    Beijing began to take aim at Ai after he exposed shoddy school construction after the earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008... and became a critic of China's communist authorities.

    Ai was not present, but his lawyer called for the hearing to be opened to the public.

    Security was tight at the venue of the closely watched case, with dozens of uniformed policemen and security personnel on duty.

    Ai's wife says she will continue to fight the charges.

    [Lu Qing, Ai Weiwei's Wife]:
    "We hired lawyers and tax accountants, they will take the case forward step by step."

    The company's lawyer has urged the authorities to open the hearing to the public.

    [Xia Lin, Ai Weiwei's Lawyer]:
    "They didn't hold an open hearing. This is against China's tax-related laws. If the penalty and hearing are not opened to the public, it can cause unfairness in the handling of the case. This should be out in the open. This is the only way to guarantee the fairness of the case."

    Ai was detained for two months earlier this year. His supporters say it was part of Beijing's efforts to tighten its control on government critics and to crack down on dissidents.

    He was released in late June but is not allowed to talk to the media.