Dissident Chinese Artist Ordered to Avoid Tax Hearing

Posted June 20th, 2012 at 5:55 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says he has been barred from attending Wednesday's court hearing of a lawsuit filed by his company to challenge a large fine imposed by Beijing tax authorities.

Ai Weiwei told reporters outside his Beijing home that police called and ordered him to stay away from the courthouse, without giving him a reason. Ai's wife, Lu Qing, who represents Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., the artist's design company, would attend the hearing.

Ai Weiwei says his legal consultant, Liu Xiaoyuan, was taken from his home Tuesday by police.

The 54-year-old Ai Weiwei was arrested last April and spent two months in solitary confinement before his conditional release. He was then ordered to pay $2.4 million in back taxes and fines, which his supporters say is part of an effort to silence the outspoken government critic. He received more than $1 million in donations from supporters who wanted to help with his bond.

Ai Weiwei has slammed the government in the past about a number of scandals, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed scores of students studying in shoddily built schools and deadly fire in a Shanghai high-rise building in 2010.