China returns dissident artist’s passport after four years

Following four years of being stripped of his passport, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gets passport back

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Fifty-eight-year-old free speech advocate and dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been given back his Chinese passport after four years of being held confiscated, he said on Wednesday.

The Chinese government had reportedly taken it from him after keeping him in solitary confinement for 81 days in 2011, for no apparent charge.

He was later charged for tax evasion, and fined with $2.4 million.

Ai, however, claims the charges were, in reality, a retaliation for his criticism of the government, which angered Beijing.

The Exit and Entry Bureau called the artist on Wednesday and told him to collect his passport, according to his statement.

"I'm not surprised because in reality, they've said they would return me my passport for many years," Ai said. "They've never said they would never give it to me, except that it has dragged on for four years."

The man says he is now legally allowed to travel outside of China.

Throughout the four years of having no Chinese passport, the man was unable to attend exhibitions and events outside of his country.

Meanwhile, his supporters in the West had called on their governments to pressure Beijing to return his passport.

Ai stated that Germany is the first place on his list that he would like to travel to, and visit his son in Berlin.

"Now that they've let me go abroad, I believe they will let me return home," he said.

The son of renowned poet Ai Qing, criticises China’s stance on democracy and human rights, and has actively investigated corruption and cover-ups within the county’s administration system.

TRTWorld and agencies