The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the release on bail of celebrated artist Ai Weiwei
after 81 days in detention, but remains deeply concerned that associates and
colleagues of the artist including former journalist Wen Tao remain missing.
Ai was released in the evening
of June 22 and returned home to his family in Beijing. When questioned by the media, the
artist made brief comments on his health and well-being before he said he could
not comment any further because he was on bail.
State-owned Xinhua News Agency
reported on June 22 that Ai was released on bail because of his “good attitude
in confessing his crimes” and because he is suffering from a chronic disease.
It is alleged that the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, a company
linked to Ai, avoided paying tax and intentionally destroyed accounting
documents, the Xinhua report said, adding that Ai repeatedly told the
authorities he is “willing to pay the taxes he evaded and intentionally
destroyed accounting documents”.
“The IFJ has concerns that Ai
was detained and apparently admitted his guilt in an investigation that lacked
transparency or a fair trial,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
“The lack of transparency in
this case prompts deep concerns for the well-being of Wen Tao and others
connected with Ai, who have been detained and whose whereabouts are unknown.”
Global Times English journalist Wen Tao, 38, was forced by the
newspaper’s editor-in-chief to leave the newspaper after the journalist wrote
articles that told of Ai’s questioning of local authorities around the
transparency of information on the 2008 Sichuan
earthquake. Global Times is associated
with the state-owned People’s Daily newspaper.
Wen was reported missing on April 3,
the same day that Ai was detained by immigration officers at Beijing
international airport as the artist was about to depart for Hong Kong.
The other missing people include
accountant Xu Mingfen, designer Liu Zhenggang, and Ai’s cousin Zhang Jingsong, who
with Wen were all employed by Beijing Fake
Cultural Development. They have all been detained for more than two months and their
whereabouts are unknown.
The IFJ urges the authorities of
to immediately and unconditionally release Wen, Xu, Liu and Zhang and lift bail
provisions that apply to Ai.
The IFJ also commends international
leaders and organisations which have campaigned to secure Ai’s release, and
encourages the continuation of this campaign for others who remain missing.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
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