Chinese artist Ai Weiwei confirms release to German daily

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High-profile Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on Wednesday confirmed to the German daily Bild that he had been freed.

"I am fine, I am back home and I am free," he told Bild's online edition. "But I cannot speak. Please understand."

The release of the outspoken activist, who was taken into custody in April during the government's biggest crackdown on activists in years, came as a surprise, as Chinese authorities had suggested he was involved in massive tax fraud.

Ai, 54, was released on bail because of "his good attitude in confessing his crimes", his willingness to repay the taxes he owes, and on medical grounds, China's state Xinhua news agency reported, without explaining his condition.

The detention of the burly avant-garde artist -- whose work was on display at London's Tate Modern gallery this year -- sparked an international outcry, with the United States and the European Union leading calls for his release.

© 2011 AFP

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