Serious questions remain after Ai's release: Britain

23rd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on Thursday but said "serious questions" remain about the circumstances of his detention and legal status.

Two days before China's Premier Wen Jiabao visits Britain, Hague also expressed concern about other activists detained by the Chinese authorities, and urged Beijing to abide by international standards on human rights.

"I welcome the release of Ai Weiwei on bail, which will come as a welcome boost to his family, friends and supporters. But serious questions remain about the circumstances of his detention and his legal status," Hague said.

"I urge the Chinese authorities to clarify the exact details of the charges against him as soon as possible.

"I am also concerned by the cases of other activists, lawyers, journalists and bloggers detained in recent weeks, and call on the Chinese authorities to ensure they are treated in accordance with international human rights standards."

Britain had lobbied hard for Ai's release following his detention nearly three months ago. Officials in London refused to speculate whether the timing had anything to do with Wen's visit to Hungary, Britain and Germany this week.

Ai, 54, was freed late Wednesday because of his "good attitude" in confessing to tax evasion, his willingness to repay taxes he owes, and on medical grounds, the government in Beijing said.

However, the authorities said Thursday that he was not permitted to leave Beijing "without permission"

The son of a poet revered by China's early Communist leaders, Ai helped design the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Games, but has since angered authorities with his activism and criticism of the government.

© 2011 AFP

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