Ai Weiwei, detained Chinese artist, receives visit by wife


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sits in the courtyard of his home in Beijing on November 7, 2010.


Peter Parks

The wife of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei had the chance to visit him Sunday night, marking the first family visit after more six weeks in detention.

Police took his wife, Lu Qing, to an undisclosed location to visit the artist and talk to him briefly, his sister told the Associated Press. Ai told his wife he was in good health and had not been mistreated or tortured.

Ai was detained April 3 at Beijing's airport as he tried to board a plane to Hong Kong.

His detention comes amid a crackdown in China against political dissidents possibly as a result of fears of protests similar to those rocking the Arab world.

The case has drawn sharp condemnation from the United States and other countries who accuse China of violating its citizens' civil liberties.

China's Foreign Ministry says Ai, 53, is suspected of economic crimes. However, his family says this is the government's excuse to silence him.

Ai's mother, Gao Ying, said Ai did not understand the charges against him.

"The fact that Lu Qing could see him was already a very merciful act by the authorities," Gao told Reuters.

"The rumors that we've heard about him being tortured have been too much for us to take, but now seeing is believing. His condition is good."

Ai is one of China's best-recognized contemporary artists.