Ai Weiwei Released but Journalist and Associates Still Missing

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

said.

 

“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

China

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.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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