2:28pm update: From Guardian,
“”I’m fine. I’m out,” the 54-year-old artist told the Guardian in a telephone call shortly after his release on bail. “I’m back with my family. I’m very happy.
[…] Speaking from his home in north Beijing, the usually outspoken artist said he could not comment any further, adding: “I’m on bail. Please understand.”
Ai’s sister Gao Ge said: “I’m very, very happy … we thank everyone, including our media friends, for all their help and support so far.”
His mother, Gao Ying, told NPR that the family “won’t sleep tonight”.
[…] Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific deputy director, said: “Ai Weiwei must now be granted his full liberty, and not be held in illegal house arrest as has been the pattern with so many others recently released from arbitrary detention.”
She also called for the immediate release of his four associates – Wen Tao, one of his friends, Zhang Jinsong, his driver and cousin, Hu Mingfen, an accountant, and Liu Zhenggang, a designer – who went missing shortly after him. Wen’s girlfriend Shi Jing, who had volunteered at Ai’s studio, said: “For both [Ai’s] friends and family, it is positive news.
“As for Wen Tao, his family hasn’t got any information so far … I still feel anxious, but since Ai is going to be bailed, there will probably be information about the others. They got into this because of Ai’s case, so there should also be news about them.””
According China’s state-controlled Xinhua news agency report (emphasis added), Ai Weiwei is released on bail because of his “good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from“. In case they delete the news, here is the report in full, for the record.
“Ai Weiwei released on bail
English.news.cn 2011-06-22 22:15:25
BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhua) — The Beijing police department said Wednesday that Ai Weiwei has been released on bail because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.
The decision comes also in consideration of the fact that Ai has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded, police said.
The Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., a company Ai controlled, was found to have evaded a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents, police said.”
According to AFP,
““[Ai Weiwei] has not come back yet. The police haven’t told us he has been released. Journalists called us and told us about the Xinhua report,” Ai’s sister Gao Ge told AFP late Wednesday.
Ai’s mobile was switched off. His wife and lawyer could not be immediately reached.“
From Guardian (emphasis added),
“Ai’s younger brother Ai Dan told the Guardian he had no information on his brother. The artist’s wife and mother could not be reached immediately and Ai’s phone remained switched off.
Earlier in the day, after a rumour that he might be released circulated on websites, his family said police had given them no information on Ai’s case.
The article gave no details of what has happened to several friends and colleagues of Ai, who went missing shortly after him.“
“Most of the other Chinese artists I know have gone on to having very nice houses, fancy cars, and I don’t think they would do anything to damage their lifestyle. Weiwei would put his life on the line for something that he believes in.“
Lets not forget Mike McConville‘s, dean of Faculty of Law, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 16 years extensive study “Criminal Justice In China: An Empirical Inquiry” where he stated in the book launch press conference,
“The judge and the prosecutor join hands with the police in making the case against the suspect.” and “Party committees which direct the work of the criminal justice courts …” No wonder Mike finds the criminal justice system in China “very disappointing“.
I don’t know the condition Ai Weiwei is in yet. And we won’t know what kind of “release” will Ai Weiwei is given until we have independent reporters reaching him and meeting him and his family free of police interference. Will this “release” be one of the many cases of “Out of Jail in China, but Not Free“? Will it be another “Soft Detention“? To me, Soft Detention is no release at all!
“Ai was defiant. He told them, ‘I will never do self censorship. Either you close it up or I will continue putting those things up.’ “
“And, as [NPR reporter] Louisa said:
“His art has long been overtly political. But after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, it took on a new urgency. He organized a campaign listing the names of students who died when shoddy schools collapsed. On one of his many trips to the quake zone, he was badly beaten by police in the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, causing a head injury, which later required brain surgery in Germany. …
“Building that history of social injustice was always going to put him on a collision course with the authorities.””