Ten days before his arrest at the Beijing airport on Sunday, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gave an eerily prophetic interview with reporter Dan Rather.
In it, he owns his role as a dissident and explains that he understood the risks associated with his activism. When asked if he is scared of anything, if he worries about being taken away Ai responds:
"As a person, you know, I'm quite weak. ... You have to constantly ask yourself if physically, mentally you are strong enough for that. I have to always, everyday ask myself, 'How long could I last, if I'm in extreme conditions such as jail?'"
China acknowledged Thursday that Ai is in custody, under investigation for “economic crimes,” but denied that he was detained for his ongoing criticism of the regime.
Ai serves as a sort of father figure to those in China who wish to voice their dissent, particularly on the internet.
He would tweet with thousands of Chinese everyday, answering their questions and giving advice. He uses aliases to evade government censors. When authorities catch up to him, he disappears from view for a little while until he pops up again somewhere else.
Everyone is hoping to see his face again soon.
The full interview: