Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ai Weiwei Released from Detention

Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

The artist Ai Weiwei made a brief statement to reporters outside his home on Thursday in Beijing.

BEIJING — After 80 days held without charge, China’s most voluble government critic, the artist Ai Weiwei, emerged from detention late Wednesday night, thanked reporters for their concern and then did something almost unimaginable — he refused to say anything more.
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It is too soon to tell what kind of restrictions Mr. Ai might face on his ability to work, socialize or communicate with the outside world. Any impulse to speak out might also be tempered by the knowledge that three of his associates — a designer, an accountant and one of his assistants — remain in detention as part of the financial inquiry that his family says his groundless.

Even as they celebrated his release on Thursday, some human rights advocates said they feared the government might have successfully muzzled one of the nation’s most renownedvoices of conscience.

“A political power can easily silence an individual,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a rights lawyer in Beijing. “But in doing so, it also shows its fear and lack of confidence. And it also shows to the world the failings of China’s legal system.”

Mia Li contributed research.

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