China's Ai Weiwei threatened with bigamy, pornography charges

Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:46am EDT
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese police told dissident artist Ai Weiwei on Thursday he could face bigamy and pornography charges and barred him from travel, despite lifting strict bail conditions imposed after his detention.

Ai, who left his house on Thursday for the first time in a year without having to report his whereabouts to police, was held for 81 days without charge in April 2011 mainly in solitary confinement until his conditional release last year.

"If getting back half of my freedom means I'm free, then I'm a free person," Ai said. "But they're restricting my ability to travel and still trying to fabricate crimes."

The threats against Ai underscore Beijing's efforts to muzzle China's most prominent critic and are likely to spark an outcry among his supporters and the international community, which has taken a close interest in his case.

China is sensitive to any threat to Communist Party rule and clamps down on all dissent, illustrated by the recent furor over the flight from house arrest by blind activist Chen Guangcheng.

Ai told Reuters that the restrictions of his bail, linked to suspected economic crimes, were lifted on Thursday but police said he could not travel as he is "suspected of other crimes" including pornography, bigamy and illicit exchange of foreign currency.

Police in Beijing were not immediately available for comment.


Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei answers a question during an interview at his studio in Beijing May 29, 2012. REUTERS/David Gray