Finally, a positive development in the infuriating story of Ai Weiwei, the world-famous Chinese artist who was arrested at Beijing’s airport on April 3rd. Reuters reports that Chinese state media says Ai has been released on bail, “because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes as well as a chronic disease he suffers from.” As for what said “crimes” entail, the official story is that Ai was hauled in for tax evasion and “has repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes he evaded.” But his family — not to mention art lovers around the world — is pretty sure that Ai’s arrest had more to do with the artist’s outspoken political dissent. He’s had trouble with authorities in the past; in January, the Chinese government demolished a costly new studio that it had encouraged him to build.
Although it’s good to hear that Ai may be out of prison, it may also be too soon to celebrate his release. His sister, Gao Ge, told Reuters that “there are these rumors that he has been let out on bail but we haven’t heard anything yet,” and Ai isn’t home yet. We’re crossing our fingers Ai Weiwei will make it back to his family soon — and, along with his many international supporters, we’re prepared to raise our voices if he doesn’t.