His arrest in April caused an international commotion. On June 22nd, Ai Weiwei, artist, activist and critic to the prevailing Communist Party, was released, after 80 days in jail.
Since his release, Ai Weiwei said he was not able to give interviews or talk to the press about his freedom conditions, giving only the information that he was released under a fine and that “it’s great to be back home”. And the China’s foreign ministry has said that Ai Weiwei can’t leave Beijing without official authorization.
Chinese authorities claim that he was released for “good attitude in confessing his crimes and because of the chronic disease he is suffering from (he has diabetes) and his repeated expression of his willingness to pay the taxes he has evaded.” (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iWVbgz7PJf1ARXw9H5lh8FvnZuPg?docId=e1eaf3a8b9234433b53bbc891c3a8458)
His silence after his release caused the Western media to start speculating that the main reasons for his release were the Western pressures and necessity for diplomatic benefits, as two days later, the prime-minister, Wen Jiabao, was about to start a tour through Hungary, the UK and Germany. According to The Economist, “China has occasionally released dissidents as a way of smoothing the way for important diplomatic exchanges”. As soon as he was released, the US state department spokesman declared that everyone arrested in China for “exercising human rights” should be freed, and the German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Ai Weiwei’s release was only the first step, and “China must fully explain the accusations against him”.
One day after the release, the Chinese press, however, claimed that his release has nothing to do with Western pressures, but rather, the Chinese law under which Ai Weiwei is living. “Ai was held about 80 days, not exceeding the limit of detention before prosecution, as Chinese law dictates. It is also in accordance with the law that a suspect of economic crimes can be released on bail for medical treatment.”, says CRI English, one of the few English portals that provides information and news about China.
Whether the Western or the Chinese media is right; or whether he was released by Western pressures or in compliance to the Chinese law, some human rights groups are concerned about his freedom and his silence, and also, the concern that his confessions could have been ‘extracted’ from him.
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