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Frustrated Ai Weiwei calls tax case a 'catch-22'

April 20, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
(Sundance Film Festival )

Ai Weiwei says he can sue the government over his ongoing tax case. But there's a catch -- the dissident Chinese artist must produce an official company seal seized by authorities when Ai was arrested last year.

"We can't get the seal back," Ai told Reuters. "It's in the hands of the police. It's very much a catch-22."

Ai sued officials over a $2.4-million tax evasion penalty on Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., the company that produced his art. Lu Qing, Ai's wife and the company's legal representative, was set to hear Friday if the court would accept the lawsuit and allow Ai access to documents he says Beijing authorities have denied.

Reuters reports that the court required Lu to produce the seal; Ai says they will hear within a week if the requirement will be waived.

"We not only can't get the seal back, we don't even have the complete copies of what they have," Ai said. "They're not helpful at all and are being very bureaucratic."

Weiwei spent 81 days in jail last year, mostly in solitary confinement, which prompted an international outcry from supporters who called the tax case a means to silence China's most famous social critic.

To mark the anniversary of his detention, two weeks ago the outspoken artist set up webcams in his home and live streamed footage of himself online.

Authorities demanded Ai stop the broadcast and the site, weiweicam.com, was deactivated.

Ai and his secret detention are the subject of a new film "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" set to open July 27 in New York and head west this summer.

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