Ai Weiwei Prevented from Attending Hearing

The court hearing of artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s case against tax authorities is scheduled for Wednesday in Beijing. In an unexpected move, a Beijing court earlier accepted Ai’s case against tax authorities who filed tax evasion charges against Ai’s art studio. But hours before it was due to open, police warned Ai Weiwei not to attend the hearing, while his legal advisor Liu Xiaoyuan was reportedly missing after being called in for questioning by police. Reuters reports:

His supporters say the tax case, due to be heard later on Wednesday, is part of the government’s drive to muzzle the outspoken social critic.

Despite the courts’ acceptance of his lawsuit, Ai told Reuters that police called him repeatedly on Tuesday afternoon, warning him not to turn up at the courthouse.

“‘You can never make it. Don’t even try,'” Ai, 55, said police told him. He said police gave no reason.

“This nation can have anything, they can have a satellite that goes to the sky and the moon, but they can never give you a clear reason why,” he said. “This is ridiculous, right? There’s no conversation, no discussion. Maybe they don’t even know the reason. It’s a really mysterious nation.”

An avid Twitter user, Ai has been tweeting updates to his followers, including a call for the release of Liu Xiaoyuan, who is assumed to be under police detention:

[I cannot go to the court; please return Liu Xiaoyuan.]

Ai also tweeted photos of police cars stationed outside his studio; staff members were reportedly assaulted by the officers they were filming:

A photo of Ai taken today is also making the rounds of Twitter:

Last week, Ai Weiwei recorded a message for the Cinema for Peace Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, which screened the documentary about him, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry:

Read more about Ai Weiwei and his detention on tax evasion charges last year.


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