Xinhua News Agency

Lawyer offers to assist Ai Weiwei

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 May, 2011, 12:00am

The family of detained artist and activist Ai Weiwei have not decided whether to hire a lawyer to prepare for possible charges of tax evasion, although a lawyer friend is ready to help.

Xinhua reported on Friday that Beijing Fake Cultural Development - a company allegedly controlled by Ai - was suspected of 'huge tax evasion' and 'intentionally destroying accounting documents'.

Gao Ge, Ai's elder sister, said yesterday that the family had not seen any documents from police or the authorities relating to her brother's case. She said she had no idea about the investigation into Ai until journalists read the Xinhua report to her on Friday. Gao added: 'We know nothing new in regard to Weiwei's whereabouts.'

In regard to Ai's case, Liu Xiaoyuan, one of Ai's lawyer friends, said the sooner a lawyer was hired the better. 'A legal representative is entitled to talk to his client before giving any advice.'

Xinhua said the company that allegedly evaded tax was controlled by Ai.

The company was owned by Ai's wife, Lu Qing, and helped produce Ai's art and designs.

'He was neither the legally responsible person nor a staff member of the company, so how come the police took him away and treated him in that way?' Gao said.

Liu said he was willing to defend Ai, even though he was aware of the 'pressure' he might face.

Ai was taken away 46 days ago at Beijing Capital International Airport as he was about to fly to Hong Kong.