Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei photographs in 'pornography' probe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 November, 2011, 12:00am


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Artist-activist Ai Weiwei says he is being investigated by police over a series of alleged 'pornographic' photographs posted on the internet more than a year ago.

His assistant who took the photos, Zhao Zhao, said he was quizzed by officers for several hours on Thursday. 'They asked if I took the photographs and I said yes,' Zhao said.

'Then they told me they were investigating the photos and anyone involved in taking them and uploading them onto the internet.

'I asked what made it pornographic as they were just nude pictures. I was simply told they were pornographic because they had classified them as such. They have been on the internet for over a year and nobody has ever complained that they are in any way obscene.'

The series of photographs - dubbed the 'one tiger, eight breasts' portraits - are studio shots showing Ai seated nude and flanked by four naked women, all fans of Ai's who volunteered to pose. Ai said he was not approached directly about the photographs, but believed he was the main target of the investigation.

He said he found it 'outrageous' the authorities could not tell the difference between art and obscenity.

'In this nation, the police should at least know what pornography is,' he said. 'I really don't know what they [the authorities] are trying to do with this investigation.'

The latest development comes after Ai this week began the process of challenging a tax bill for 15 million yuan (HK$18.4 million) in alleged back taxes by paying an 8.45 million yuan guarantee to authorities with money raised from supporters.

He was detained by police for 81 days earlier this year and a firm linked to him was charged with tax evasion following his release.

He said: 'The photographs were mentioned during interrogations, and they said then they were investigating whether they were pornographic, but I did not take that seriously at the time.'