Chinese Artist Pays $1.3 Million for Tax Bill Appeal

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 7:35 am (UTC-5)
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Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says he has deposited $1.3 million into a bank account designated by Chinese tax authorities, avoiding a threat of having his case turned over to criminal investigators.

Tax authorities had demanded the payment by Wednesday in order for him to go ahead with an appeal against a $2.4 million bill for back taxes and penalties. Most of the money came in donations from supporters.

Ai wanted to avoid paying the money into the government account, fearing that would be taken as an admission of guilt. But he said Tuesday the authorities gave him no choice.

He said he was told if the payment was not made, he would have lost the opportunity to appeal. Aides said the case would then become a criminal matter, endangering the artist, his wife and associates.

The artist, who was detained for almost three months without charges earlier this year, said he will go ahead with a request an for administrative review of his case.

But he said he believes he has no chance of winning because the case against him is politically motivated.

Ai, an outspoken government critic whose work has been exhibited in the world's leading galleries, was held without charges for 81 days at the height of a government crackdown on dissidents. His supporters believe the arrest was part of a broader campaign to make sure that popular uprisings spreading through the Middle East did not spread to China.