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22 June 2011

Ai Weiwei released

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

By Harry Conrad Cockburn

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.

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

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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.