In recent months artist and dissident Ai Weiwei has been a staunch and somewhat surprising defender of the rights of Bo Xilai, the senior politician who’s been accused of corruption, and his wife Gu Kailai, who was recently found guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Haywood with cyanide-laced water. Mr. Ai has stated repeatedly that everyone—even humiliated party leaders and their partners—deserve their days in court, as The New Republic‘s Marc Tracy has noted. (Disclosure: Mr. Tracy is a friend of this writer.)
A Chinese court just delivered a suspended death sentence against Ms. Gu, and The New York Times decided to get Mr. Ai’s response. He has a pithy take on the whole court case, which most observers agree has been something less than a model display of the Chinese justice system’s operation, filled with glaring inconsistencies and omissions. From the article:
“For many people, the party was just trying to use the justice system for their own purposes, but they did it in such a way that made everyone laugh,” said Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist provocateur who spent 81 days in extralegal detention last year for what he says was his unyielding government criticism. “It’s obvious to everyone that they came up with the sentence before the facts were known.”
Not bad, coming from a guy whom Chinese authorities have said they are continuing to investigate on charges ranging from pornography to bigamy.