Posted at 10:32 AM ET, 08/10/2011

Ai Weiwei speaks out against government on Twitter


Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei speaks to members of the media in the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing, June 23, 2011. (DAVID GRAY - REUTERS)
Chinese artist and dissident Ai WeiWei used Twitter Tuesday to make his first anti-government comments since he was freed in June.

In several tweets, Ai denounced the treatment of colleagues who had been detained with him and expressed his support for two other jailed dissidents.

But less than a day after the anti-government tweets, Ai did an about-face in a six-hour long interview he gave to Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party.

The terms of Ai’s release from detention prohibit him from making public statements either online or in interviews.

Ai was arrested in April and held for more than two months without any official charges being filed. He later pled guilty to tax evasion

Ai told the New York Times he felt compelled to speak out because he believed his lesser-known colleagues were in great danger. He acknowledged that the tweets could land him in legal trouble.

In one tweet, Ai wrote: “If you don’t speak for Wang Lihong, nor for Ran Yunfei, not only you’re the sort that doesn’t speak up for fairness and justice, you have no love for yourself.”

如果你不为王荔蕻说话,不为冉云飞说话,你不仅是一个不会为公平正义站出来的人,你没有自爱。less than a minute ago via 推土机(墙内直接点击) Favorite Retweet Reply

Ai was referring to two detainees, Wang Lihong, a rights activist, and Ran Yunfei, a writer and blogger.

In another posting, Ai named four additional arrested colleagues, who he wrote were detained “because of me” and “innocently... suffered huge mental devastation and physical torture.” Their names are Liu Zhenggang, Hu Mingfen, Wen Tao and Zhang Jinsong.

Ai also used Twitter to share photos on Instagram, an iPhone photo sharing service. On Sunday, the artist posted an up-close photo of himself, another of what appeared to be him on a scale weighing in at nearly 220 pounds, and a third photo of two little boys in long T-shirts playing near a tree.

But Ai, who has once referred to the Chinese Communist Party as “gangsters,” appeared serious and uncritical in an interview with the Global Times just one day later, telling the paper that he had never called for a change to the “form” of China's government.

“Overthrowing the regime through a radical revolution is not the way to solve China's problems,” Ai said. “No one is above the law.”

Ai, who has consistently refused to give in-depth interviews since he was released in June, confirmed to the AFP news service that the intervew was genuine.

UPDATE, 2:42 p.m.

Several hours after Ai tweeted that 43-year-old writer and blogger Ran Yunfei should be freed, the wife of Ran said her husband had been released.

Ran had spent almost six months in police custody, under charges of state subversion.

He returned home late Tuesday night.

For the next six months, Ran’s movements and his ability to speak or write publicly will be restricted.

By  |  10:32 AM ET, 08/10/2011

 
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