Ai Weiwei: Detention “Designed as a Kind of Mental Torture and it Works Well”

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August 12, 2011
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One of Ai Weiwei’s associates offered a detailed account of the Chinese dissident artist’s detention to Reuters, saying Ai was interrogated more than 50 times and held in two secret locations, where he was watched over for 24 hours per day, even while he slept.

“It was immense psychological pressure,” said the source.

According to the Reuters source account — confirmed by Ai to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal today — much of the questioning focused on his social media activities, dissecting his Twitter account and his blog “line by line.” Authorities also questioned whether Ai involved in planning the February “Jasmine Revolution” protests inspired by the Arab Spring. The official line when Ai was released was that he was held on charges of tax evasion.

This week, Ai resumed his social media postings, writing on his Twitter account that colleagues imprisoned with him underwent “huge mental devastation and physical torture.” The postings, as well as Ai’s statements to the media, appear to violate the terms of his release, which reportedly barred him using the Internet or talking to foreigners.

“I did what I think is necessary and I’ll take the consequences,” Ai told the Wall Street Journal. “I can’t be alive and not express my feelings.”

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