Claiming Police Harassment, Ai Weiwei Skips Court Hearing

Also, one of the artist's lawyers is missing

A photograph of Ai Weiwei. (Courtesy @aiww)

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s attempt to appeal the $2.4 million fine he faces for allegedly failing to pay taxes has hit a roadblock—a few of them, actually. His legal counsel has disappeared, and he says that Chinese authorities told him not to attend a scheduled hearing and sent police to his Beijing studio, leading to a scuffle of some type with one of his assistants.

Reports that Mr. Ai’s legal counsel, Liu Xiaoyuan, vanished after attending a meeting with state security officials on Tuesday evening appeared via Reuters early today. Mr. Liu has not been reachable for comment since then. The artist also told the wire service that officials warned him not to attend today’s hearing. Here’s Reuters:

Ai, 54, said that despite the courts’ acceptance of his lawsuit, police warned him not to attend the hearing, and sent several patrol cars to park outside the studio where he lives.

“‘You can never make it. Don’t even try,'” Ai, 55, said police told him. He said they gave no reason.

A Beijing correspondent for CNN reports that Mr. Ai stayed home, and his wife, Lu Qing, went in his place. As for the police action at his studio, he had this to say to the cable news service:

“I’ve never seen so many police cars outside my studio — at one point last night a few dozen were there, which was unprecedented,” Ai told CNN by phone.

“Yesterday my assistant wanted to take pictures of the police outside our studio, but his camera was immediately grabbed and he got injured in the process,” he said.

Art Review notes that Mr. Ai has been particularly active on Twitter in recent hours, describing the altercation and also sending out a rather curious self-portrait that shows himself wearing the uniform of a security officer. No doubt Chinese authorities will love it.

Claiming Police Harassment, Ai Weiwei Skips Court Hearing