The Guardian follows up on reports that two close associates of Ai Weiwei have gone missing over the weekend:
Friends of Zhang Jingsong, known to friends as Xiao Pang, and accountant Ms Hu – who worked for Ai’s art and architecture practice Fake Design, and whose full name is not known – have been unable to contact them since the weekend.
[…] Zhang, 53, has been out of contact since he was stopped by officials at Beijing airport more than a week ago.
His friend Wen Tao, 38, has also been missing since police reportedly detained him on the same day. They did not respond to faxed queries about the four individuals.
They visited Ai’s studio three times in the week before his detention, and removed scores of items afterwards. They also questioned numerous staff and volunteers.
Meanwhile, the Guardian also spoke with Yue Luqing, the artist whose work Ai allegedly plagiarized according to a report from Xinhua, and got a different story:
Yue told the Guardian that he had “strong sympathy” for Ai and was worried about him following his detention, and questioned the relevance of the claims.
“I hope he is safe, no matter where he is now. I know that he has not been in good health. I have been paying attention to what he has been doing during the years, and I identify with him. These are completely different matters,” he said.
Yue said that in 2006 he had sent 1,001 people from Shanghai to Xi’an, as part of an arts project organised by the British Council.
But he added: “I would like to clarify that personally I have never said that Ai Weiwei plagiarised my work. I don’t think it is necessary to sue him and I don’t have that kind of plan either. In the art world sometimes there are what we call ‘collisions’ of ideas.”
Below is a video of Wen Tao (Tommy Wen), the assistant of Ai’s who is also still missing, about his firing from Global Times for writing about Ai: