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Ai Weiwei relaxes in his studio in the Caochangdi Art District, in a photo from the Global Times
Ai Weiwei relaxes in his studio in the Caochangdi Art District, in a photo from the Global Times

Artnet News

AI WEIWEI SPEAKS OUT
Aug. 12, 2011

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Chinese officials have banned Ai from speaking to Western media for one year. Nevertheless, Ai Weiwei has detailed new aspects of his two-and-a-half-month detention and his interactions with the Chinese police in a phone call to the New York Times. The artist described being watched 24 hours a day by military police sergeants who never stepped further than 30 inches from his side. He called it “a kind of mental torture.”

Ai was released in late June after admitting to tax evasion, but he now says that interrogators, who questioned him some 50 times, never asked him about taxes. Instead, they were primarily interested in his blog, on which he has written critically of the government.

Ai Weiwei has become active on Twitter and Google+, as well. Earlier this week, Ai posted a Twitter update calling for the release of four colleagues he feared were in greater danger than him because they were not as well-known. One, blogger Ran Yunfei, has since been released on the condition that he, too, does not speak publicly.

Ai also gave an interview to the Chinese communist tabloid Global Times, resulting in a surprisingly optimistic profile of the artist. Calling Ai “droll,” “pensive” and “politically feisty,” the writer quotes him saying, "I will never avoid politics, none of us can. We live in a politicized society. . . . I will never stop fighting injustice."

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