Dissident Artist in China is Held as Crackdown Spreads

The New York Times has more details on the detention of artist activist Ai Weiwei, who was taken away Sunday morning while trying to board a plane for Hong Kong. His detention and the subsequent police search of his studio in Beijing were tweeted live by various assistants and friends:

Jennifer Ng, an assistant who accompanied Mr. Ai on Sunday morning, said he was taken away by uniformed officers as the two of them passed through customs at Beijing International Airport. Ms. Ng said she was told to board the plane alone because Mr. Ai “had other business” to attend to. She said Mr. Ai was planning to spend a day in Hong Kong before flying to Taiwan for a meeting about a possible exhibition.

A man who answered the phone at the Beijing Public Security Bureau on Sunday declined to answer questions about Mr. Ai’s whereabouts and hung up.

Shortly after Mr. Ai’s seizure, more than a dozen police raided the artist’s studio in the Caochangdi neighborhood, cut off power to part of that area and led away nearly a dozen employees, a mix of Chinese citizens and foreigners who are part of Mr. Ai’s large staff. By Sunday evening, the foreigners and several of the Chinese had been released after being questioned, according to one of Mr. Ai’s employees, who was not in the studio when the public security agents arrived.

“It’s not clear what they are looking for but we’re all really terrified,” said the employee, who asked not to be named for fear of drawing the attention of the police. She said the police had visited the studio three times last week to check on the documents of studio’s non-Chinese employees.

See also reports from:
The Washington Post
The Guardian

Follow developments on twitter at hashtags #aiweiwei and #aiww or through his account @aiww.

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