Ai Weiwei emerged from jail last week a quieter, more subdued version of the outspoken artist whom authorities detained on April 3 from a Hong Kong-bound flight about to leave Beijing. The democracy advocate spent about three months in jail, where he was eventually accused of nonpayment of taxes. Since his release on June 28, Ai hasn't spoken much to reporters, citing government bans as part of his bail agreement. Today, according to the Associated Press, the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau informed Ai that he owed "around 5 million yuan ($770,000) in unpaid taxes and would be fined about 7 million yuan ($1.1 million)--totaling just over 12 million yuan ($1.85 million), said Beijing human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan." Ai is a very successful artist who has shown his work in London, New York, and Berlin, among other places, selling pieces for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But his representatives have questioned why the tax charges were only leveled this year. "We don't know anything about these taxes," his mother, Gao Ying, told the AP. "These taxes date back 10 years. Why, at that time, if they really had not paid their taxes, why did they not say anything about it every year?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.