【 CNN 】   Post Date: 6/22/2012
Ai Weiwei Warned by Police to Miss Court Date
Author: Tian Shao
The well-known dissident and artist says he is being harassed by the police, with a few dozen police cars outside his residence at one point.  His assistant, Liu Xiaoyuan, was injured while attempting to take pictures of the police and was later taken in to custody.
Beijing (CNN) -- China's most famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, was being harassed by police and warned to stay away from a planned court appearance on Wednesday, he said.
"I've never seen so many police cars outside my studio -- at one point last night a few dozen were there, which was unprecedented," Ai told CNN by phone.
"Yesterday my assistant wanted to take pictures of the police outside our studio, but his camera was immediately grabbed and he got injured in the process," he said.
"The police started calling me repeatedly yesterday afternoon, warning me to stay away from the court today, which I find pretty confusing" because he is facing tax charges, he said.
Ai says the allegations that he owes back taxes are a cover for accusations that he is trying to overthrow the state.
There were still a handful of police officers around as the artist was due in court, he said.
His wife Lu Qing went to court in his place, the artist said.
Meanwhile, his associate Liu Xiaoyuan was taken by police on Tuesday night, he said.
"I've no idea what's happening to him now, neither do I know why. I don't think we can expect to hear from him any time soon," Ai said.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment directly on Ai's allegations as he briefed international journalists on Wednesday.
"China is a country of laws," Hong Lei said in response to questions about the dissident. "We rule the country by law. China's constitution and laws protect citizen's legal rights. At the same time, citizens must abide by China's constitution and laws."
Ai said the police actions were "really harming the legal process. They fail to give any explanation for doing so and are contradicting their previous accusations," he said.
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Key Words: Ai Weiwei, human rights China
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