Chinese artist Ai Weiwei "released"

Renowned activist and artist Ai Weiwei has been released on bail after confessing to tax evasion, Chinese state media report.

This content was published on June 22, 2011 minutes and agencies

The official news agency said on Wednesday that Ai's poor health was also a factor in his release after two months and 19 days.

Ai, one of China's most internationally known artists, helped design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing. Famed for his irreverence toward authority, he was picked up at Beijing's airport on April 3.

The media report said Ai had shown a "good attitude in confessing his crimes" and pledged to pay back taxes he owed. The Chinese government refused to answer questions about Ai’s fate during his detention.

Reports claimed a company linked to Ai, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., evaded a "huge amount" of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents. Ai's family and supporters have dismissed similar accusations in the past.

Ai's detention made him the most famous victim of a sweeping crackdown against dissidents in China that began in February when online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa began to circulate.

Hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists, and other intellectuals disappeared or were questioned or detained by authorities in the clampdown.

Switzerland played a role in launching the artist’s early career and raising the artist’s international status. Lucerne’s Galerie Urs Meile fostered his career from 1997 onwards and his first solo show was held in Bern.

In May two exhibitions involving the artist’s work opened in Lucerne and Winterthur.

A few weeks earlier during a visit to China, Swiss Interior Minister Didier Burkhalter raised the issue of Ai's detention.

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