07/15/2011, 00.00
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Ai Weiwei’s defence attorneys trying to spare him 12 million yuan tax bill

The lawyers for the internationally renowned artist appeal against a US$ 1.9 million bill that he has to pay after he was arrested on tax evasion charges. A Berlin university offers him a professorship.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ai Weiwei is fighting back. Through his wife and his companies, he is trying to regain the assets and money the government wants to take from him on alleged “tax evasion”. Yesterday in fact, the Beijing Fake Cultural Development, which is legally owned by Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, filed an appeal against a US$ 1.9 million tax bill issued against the company after Ai Weiwei was released on bail after three months in jail.

Lu was joined by lawyers Pu Zhiqiang and Xia Lin, who represent the Beijing Fake Cultural Development. Ai, author of the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games, was not present. He is facing trial for tax evasion but many believe he was targeted for his action on behalf of human rights and especially freedom of expression.

According to the company’s defence attorneys, seized financial records must be returned in order to fight the case. However, the authorities have not done so, thus breaching proper procedures.

The authorities “didn't return the company's documents within the specified three-month period, so we objected on both these counts," lawyer Xia Lin said. The deadline for the return of the documents was 8 July.

Meanwhile, Berlin's University of the Arts offered Ai a position as a guest lecturer. The latter said he was "very happy" to accept a new professorship in Germany, but did not know when he would be able to go.

“I hope to be able to contribute something important in the future,” Ai said; however, it was “not clear” when he would be able to leave China.
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