Today, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was harassed by police in an attempt to block him from attending his scheduled court appearance on Wednesday at the Beijing tax bureau.
The same night according to Ai Weiwei’s Twitter account, Ai Weiwei’s private legal consultant Liu Xiaoyuan was asked to meet Secret Police at 8:30 pm Beijing time and temporarily “disappeared,” according to the artist, who told CNN:
I’ve no idea what’s happening to him now, neither do I know why. I don’t think we can expect to hear from him any time soon.
The police intimidation and kidnapping of his lawyer comes as just another addition to the artist’s long list of battles with Chinese authorities. Detained for 81 days in April of last year and ordered to pay 15 m yuan (roughly US$2.3 m) for tax charges against his company, Fake Cultural Development Ltd.Weiwei and his supporters maintain that the tax evasion charges are an attempt to silence the outspoken artist who has been critical of the Chinese government’s policies.
Weiwei told the Wall Street Journal:
“The police tried to persuade me, but I told them that wouldn’t work. So they gave me clear order. They said even if you try, you can’t make it there.
Not just intimidating Weiwei, the Chinese police injured his assistant when he began to take photographs of the police located outside Weiwei’s studio. Earlier today, Ai Weiwei tweeted photographs, documenting his assistant’s injuries.
Weiwei’s scheduled court hearing was for his company’s lawsuit challenging the allegations that he owes back taxes. His wife Lu Qing went to court in his place.
Reporting via Twitter, several reporters and Weiwei supporters and friends have described the heavy security restrictions around the Chaoyang Court where the hearing is being held. China BBC producer Becky Lipscombe tweeted that the Chinese police would not allow her or her cameramen to even walk past the courthouse. Another close contact of Ai Weiwei tweeted two foreign reporters were taken away from the courthouse by police. A few hours ago, Liu Xiaoyuan called Ai Weiwei’s studio, according to tweets by the artist. Jennifer Ng has translated a number of the artist’s tweets from Mandarin into English:
According to a recent tweet by Weiwei, the trial has ended and Lu Qing and her lawyers are home. The outcome of the hearing has not been announced.