Ai Weiwei's wife allowed visit


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


Peter Parks

Prominent artist and government critic Ai Weiwei has been allowed to see his wife, his first outside contact since police grabbed him at the Beijing airport more than one month ago.

The government has said it is investigating Ai for "economic crimes," but has filed no formal charges against him. His wife was allowed to see him for about 20 minutes on Sunday at an undisclosed location, the Associated Press reported, in a meeting during which the couple did not talk about why Ai had been detained or the outlook of the situation.

"We could not talk about the economic charges or other stuff, mainly about the family and health," Lu Qing, Ai's wife, told the AP. "We were careful, we knew that the deal could be broken at any moment, so we were careful."

Ai has been a vocal critic of China's heavy-handed tactics on its own citizens. Among other work, he has documented the numbers and names of students who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, many believed to have perished in shoddily built schools thanks to rampant corruption.

Attorneys have said Ai's current extra-judicial detention is not in keeping with China's own laws, but amid the country's ongoing crackdown on dissent, he is not alone. Dozens of lawyers, writers and others have been detained without charges, some released and some still missing. Among them is Wen Tao, a former journalist for official state media who was working with Ai when he disappeared the same day.