BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Ai Weiwei. AFP photo
Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was barred from a hearing challenging a multi-million-dollar tax penalty against a firm he founded, he said, accusing authorities of seeking to “crush” him.
Ai, an internationally acclaimed artist also renowned for his political activism, disappeared into custody for 81 days last year as police rounded up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China.
On his release, he was accused of tax evasion linked to Fake Cultural Development Ltd, a company he founded, but which is legally registered in his wife’s name.
Lawyers for Fake have lodged an appeal against the charges. He has accused the tax bureau of failing to follow correct procedures in the case. In November, the Beijing tax bureau issued a bill for 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in alleged back taxes, giving the artist 15 days to pay it or hand over an 8.45-million-yuan guarantee.