Ai Weiwei released

"Confession" over tax evasion and ill health led to release, Xinhua news agency report.

Chinese State media have released a statement saying that the artist Ai Weiwei has been released, having reportedly confessed to crimes.

The internationally renowned artist and political activist was arrested at Beijing Airport on 3 April, and has been held in a secret location without access to a lawyer.

Xinhua news agency has reported that a confession of tax evasion, and Ai's poor health were both factors in his release. No current whereabouts were given, and his family have not been formally notified.

The report adds that "Ai has shown a good attitude in confessing his crimes" and he reportedly pledged to pay back taxes he owed, having been linked to a company called "Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd" that owed a "huge amount" of tax.

No information was given about any of Ai's colleagues, who went missing at the same time.

Ai Weiwei's contemporary art sculptures Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is currently on display in the courtyard of Somerset House, and an exhibition of his work at the Lisson Gallery runs until July 16.

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“The Hole-Up”: a poem by Matthew Sweeney

“You could taste the raw / seagull you’d killed and plucked, / the mussels you’d dug from sand, / the jellyfish that wobbled in your / hands as you slobbered it.”

Lying on your mouth and nose
on the hot sand, you recall
a trip in a boat to the island –
the fat rats that skittered about
after god-knows-what dinner,
the chubby seals staring up,
the sudden realisation that a man
on the run had wintered there
while the soldiers scoured
the entire shoreline to no avail –
you knew now you had been him
out there. You could taste the raw
seagull you’d killed and plucked,
the mussels you’d dug from sand,
the jellyfish that wobbled in your
hands as you slobbered it.
You saw again that first flame
those rubbed stones woke in
the driftwood pile, and that rat
you grilled on a spar and found
delicious. Yes, you’d been that man,
and you had to admit now you
missed that time, that life,
though you were very glad you
had no memory of how it ended.


Matthew Sweeney’s Black Moon was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Prize. His latest collection is Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe).

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt