Ai Weiwei charged with tax evasion
A company linked to the artist hid "enormous" sums from the Treasury and "destroyed" all records. In the past, many dissidents were accused of economic crimes.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A short statement from Xinhua says that a company controlled by the artist Ai Weiwei is accused of tax evasion and destruction of evidence suggesting that the sculptor-activist will soon be indicted for tax evasion.

On April 3, Ai was detained as he was boarding a plane to Hong Kong. He has been held without charge since then. Most analysts link the arrest of Ai Weiwei to the series of arrests of activists, lawyers, human rights, petitioners, unleashed after calls appeared on the internet for a "jasmine revolution" in China.

Ai Weiwei, 54, is famous in China and abroad for his works of modern art, but also for his civic commitment to the victims of the Sichuan earthquake and for his criticism of the Communist Party.

In January 2011 his studio in Shanghai was demolished and in December 2010 he was prevented from leaving China just before the ceremony in Oslo for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Xinhua said that the organization Beijing Fake Cultural Development, has hidden a "huge amount" of taxes and "intentionally destroyed commercial documents," giving way to a police investigation.

Liu Xiaoyuan, a friend of Ai, says that in this way the artist may be sentenced to at least 7 years in prison. Ai Weiwei's sister defends her brother, noting that Ai is not the legal representative or the president of the Beijing Fake Cultural Development.

In the past, many dissidents - including Wei Jingsheng - were condemned not for their political commitment, but for "economic crimes".