Ai Weiwei, Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel

Peking, 2 May 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).

On the occasion of the official visit of President François Hollande to China, newspaper Libération reported some details about the Ai Weiwei affair.

In 2011, the artist was arrested for defending the liberty of the Chinese people and for promoting a more democratic Chinese society. The French daily newspaper revealed that his release was a result of the joint intervention of the French President of the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. A source close to the French government reportedly told Libération that “this release was until now kept secret, but we can now make it known to the wider public.”

Ai Weiwei’s speeches were considered to be provocative and subversive, forcing Peking to put pressure on the artist. He was arrested in April 2011 at an airport, while he was trying to leave the country. After being detained for 81 days, supposedly in difficult conditions, the artist was finally released. But this release was also followed by a record fine of €1.7m, which he apparently had to pay for fiscal irregularities. He has since then been forbidden to leave the territory.