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Artist Ai Weiwei released on bail after three months in jail

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was released on bail after three months of detention is not permitted to leave Beijing "without permission" said the Chinese authorities.


Human rights groups and Western officials welcomed Ai's unexpected release, but voiced dismay over the conditions and urged Beijing to free other activists still in detention.

His release came late on Wednesday because of his "good attitude" in confessing to tax evasion, his willingness to repay taxes he owes, and on medical grounds, the government said.

His detention, which came during a major government crackdown on activists launched in February, sparked furious criticism led by Western governments who repeatedly called for his immediate release.

The release of the 54-year-old avant-garde artist comes just before the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sets off Friday on a European tour, with stops in Hungary, Britain and Germany.

London and Berlin have been especially vocal about the case. Ai's work has been displayed this year at the British capital's Tate Modern gallery, and the University of the Arts in Berlin has invited him to be a guest professor.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei says Ai is "still under investigation" for economic crimes and not allowed to leave Beijing "without permission". His bail agreement is valid for 12 months.

Rights groups are now clamouring for the release of other activists who have disappeared into police custody since mid-February when Beijing, nervous about online calls for Arab-style protests, clamped down on dissent.


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