Ai Weiwei will not be given a public hearing to reconsider a $2.4-million tax evasion penalty. The dissident artist told CNN by phone that he received a notice Tuesday from Chinese authorities that said he would have a written hearing instead of a public trial, which he had requested.
Ai collected $1.3 million from 30,000 supporters to contest the charge. Ai said if he had not paid the sum, his wife would have been jailed.
The artist spent 81 days in jail last year, mainly in solitary confinement, prompting an international outcry. Supporters called the tax case a means to silence China's most famous social critic.
The iconoclastic artist and his secret detention are the subject of a new film, "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," set to open July 27 in New York and head west this summer. Freelance journalist Alison Klayman directs the documentary that follows Ai before he was thrown in jail in April and completed the film after his conditional release in June.
The film premiered early this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize and sparked activist fervor among moviegoers.
Photo: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry." Credit: Sundance Film Festival.