Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei warned not to attend his company's tax hearing - InfoNews

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Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei warned not to attend his company's tax hearing

Ai Weiwei talks on his mobile phone as he walks in his house's courtyard in Beijing Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Chinese police on Wednesday barred Ai from attending the first hearing of a lawsuit brought by his company against Beijing tax authorities and blocked reporters from filming at the courthouse, part of an intimidation campaign aimed at silencing the prominent artist and outspoken government critic. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
June 20, 2012 - 3:09 AM

BEIJING, China - Chinese police on Wednesday barred Ai Weiwei from attending the first hearing of a lawsuit brought by his company against Beijing tax authorities and blocked reporters from filming at the courthouse, part of an intimidation campaign aimed at silencing the prominent artist and outspoken government critic.

Ai told reporters Wednesday that police ordered him on Tuesday night to stay inside his courtyard home in northeast Beijing and steer clear of the courts. He said he agreed.

Chinese authorities view Ai as a troublemaker. They detained him for three months last year and his design company was ordered to pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes and fines.

The company has appealed the fine and separately filed a suit earlier this year against the tax bureau for allegedly violating laws in handling witnesses, evidence and company accounts in the case.

To the surprise of many, the suit was accepted.

Ai's wife, who is the legal representative of his design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., went to the hearing with several lawyers and an accountant.

Plainclothes and uniformed police were stationed outside Ai's home and studio Wednesday, registering journalists who showed up to interview Ai and report on his case. Ai argued briefly with them and demanded to know why they were interrogating his visitors. Reporters were also blocked from filming at the courthouse.

Since he emerged from detention last year, Ai has been refused permission to travel and is under constant surveillance. He still frequently criticizes the government on Twitter, which is blocked in China but accessible to tech-savvy citizens.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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