Thursday, 30 July 2015

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(SKYNEWS) Ai Weiwei Denied UK Visa Over 'Conviction'

By: Unknown On: 02:53
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    Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been denied a six-month business visa for the UK after failing to declare a "criminal conviction". The dissident was told he is limited to a three-week trip in a letter from the British Embassy in Beijing. Ai posted a photo of the letter on his Instagram account which said it was "a matter of public record that you have previously received a criminal conviction in China, and you have not declared this". It added that he had been "exceptionally" granted a visa for 20 days in September. The decision about the world famous contemporary artist has prompted outrage from rights groups. In 2011, Ai was detained for 81 days amid a crackdown on government critics, but not formally charged with a crime. A company run by his wife and listing him as an employee was fined $2.4m the following year after losing a civil legal battle against tax authorities, proceedings widely seen as a reprisal for Ai's outspoken criticism of the ruling Communist party. He had been forbidden from travelling abroad for years until last week when Chinese authorities returned his passport to him. The letter from the embassy went on to say that any future application the artist makes should be completed "as accurately as possible", warning him that he faced a 10-year ban if he did not comply. Ai said in a separate Instagram post he had "never been charged or convicted of a crime". He added that he had attempted to clarify the situation with British authorities "but the representatives insisted on the accuracy of their sources and refused to admit any misjudgment". The three-week visa means he will still be able to attend a show of his work at London's Royal Academy of Arts in September. But he will miss a state visit by China's president Xi Jinping in October. Britain's Home Office said in a statement that visa applications were considered "on their individual merits and in line with the relevant legislation", adding: "Mr Ai has been granted a visa for the full duration of his requested dates of travel." .. . .


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