Ai Weiwei texts friends: 'I'm out. I'm fine.'
Times reporter Barbara Demick reports from Beijing that Ai Weiwei was released from detainment on Wednesday and that the artist sent a text message to friends and associates saying, "I'm out. I'm fine."
Ai, who was arrested in early April as he attempted to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong, was said to appear thin but is believed to be in good health. The artist greeted reporters and photographers in front of his Beijing studio on Wednesday, but was unable to give interviews under the conditions of his release.
Since his arrest, cultural and political groups from around the world have put pressure on the Chinese government through protests and petitions.
Demick reports that Chinese authorities might switch their case against Ai to a civil proceeding, "which would allow them to back away gracefully from a situation that has brought great embarrassment."
China's official state media reported Wednesday that Ai has evaded large amounts of taxes and that he is willing to pay the amount he allegedly owes. Ai's supporters believe his arrest was a form of retaliation against his criticisms of the Chinese government and his activism in the realms of free speech and human rights.
The Times reports that Ai's attorney, Liu Xiaoyuan, said that they were still awaiting an accounting from tax authorities of how much money was supposed to be owed.
-- David Ng
Photo: Ai Weiwei greets members of the media in the doorway to his studio after being released on bail in Beijing. Credit: David Gray / Reuters