The New York Times reports that the lawyer representing Ai Weiwei’s studio is fighting the $2 million USD fines that Ai’s studio faces for charges of “tax evasion.” Liu Zhenggang and Hu Mingfen have technically been released, as has reporter Wen Tao, but none of them have yet been seen in person. Statements by Chinese authorities say that Liu suffered a heart attack while under interrogation and was transported to a hospital.
According to Ai Weiwei’s lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, Ai’s FAKE studio has been accused (and seemingly convicted) of evading over 5 million RMB ($770,000 USD) and is to pay 7 million RMB ($1 million USD) in fines, together totaling around $2 million USD. Ai’s mother Gao Ying speaks on her son’s arrest, release and current condition. In the meantime, the Chinese art scene continues business as usual, with the exception of some ripples — a well-known artist-run cafe has been closed by the authorities.
Ai Weiwei assistant Duyan Pili broke the news that Ai’s FAKE studio architect Liu Zhenggang and accountant Hu Mingfen have also been released from custody following the artist’s release two days ago. Ai’s cousin and driver Zhang Jinsong was released yesterday. Reporter Wen Tao is still detained, but hopes run high for his release.
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been released, as has his cousin Zhang Jinsong, but that doesn’t mean the story is over. Ai’s legal case is still open, China is still detaining and jailing dissidents and the Ai’s freedom may just be political image clean-up for the government. What does the release actually mean?
Around 5 hours ago, the news broke that Ai Weiwei’s cousin and driver Zhang Jingson was to be released on bail, as the artist was yesterday. Zhang is now home and has lost 19 kg; Ai associate Duyan Pili notes that he’ll have to lose his nickname of “Little Fatty.”