Chinese artist Ai Weiwei released on bail


Artist Ai Weiwei is a defiant critic of China's government.


Miguel Villagran

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has been freed on bail after confessing to tax evasion charges, according to his lawyer and a state media report.

Ai, a vocal critic of the Chinese government and its human rights record, was arrested April 3 at Beijing airport as he boarded a flight to Hong Kong. He was held in an undisclosed location despite intense international pressure for his release.

(From GlobalPost in China: A rare photo of Ai Weiwei)

The state-run Xinhua news agency said that Ai had promised to repay the taxes and would be released because of "his good attitude in confessing his crimes."

Ai is suffering from “chronic illness,” and this was also a factor in his release, Xinhua said.

Ai's lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan has confirmed his release, according to reports.

There were also independent reports that Ai had returned to his workshop, and appeared to have lost weight.

In May, authorities accused Ai of destroying accounting documents and evading a "huge amount" of taxes. But critics of the government say the charges are motivated by the artist's activism.

Ai, who helped design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic stadium, had been outspoken on behalf of victims of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, many of whom died due to shoddily constructed schools that collapsed in the quake.

His wife Lu Qing was allowed to visit him briefly on May 16.

Ai's recent installation at the Tate Modern in London featured a vast carpet of hand-made porcelain sunflower seeds.