Despite the fact that today marked the expiration of the one-year bail term that Chinese officials had imposed on Ai Weiwei after detaining him last year for almost three months, it was not a good day for the Chinese dissident and artist. After being blocked yesterday from attending a hearing on his company’s appeal of a $2.4 million tax fine (his wife attended in his place), he said that the government is now threatening to bring new charges against him.
He told Reuters that, even though officials lifted the strict conditions of his bail period (he had been prohibited from leaving his studio without notifying the government), they have not returned his passport and have prohibited him from traveling because he is under investigation for “pornography, bigamy and illicit exchange of foreign currency.”
As for the most dramatic of those accusations, Reuters writes: “Ai, who is married, also denies the charge of bigamy. He openly meets a girlfriend and has a three-year-old son from that relationship.” The details of each of the other charges are explained in the wire service’s story.
Mr. Ai is scheduled to come to the United States in the fall to supervise installation for exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and a number of other venues. It’s not clear that he will be able to leave the country by then; he told the wire service that officials told him that the investigation will last “as long as they want it, it could be years.”