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Chinese artist says he won't get a public trial in tax case

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012
Ai Weiwei says he received a note on Thursday that said he must pay the equivalent of $2.4 million in back taxes.
Ai Weiwei says he received a note on Thursday that said he must pay the equivalent of $2.4 million in back taxes.
  • Ai Weiwei says he will only get a "written hearing"
  • China says he owes $2.4 million in back taxes
  • His supporters say he's being targeted for criticizing the government
  • Ai is an internationally renowned artist

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Dissident artist Ai Weiwei will not be allowed to publicly appeal a multimillion-dollar tax penalty the Chinese government says he owes, he said Thursday.

Ai told CNN by phone that Chinese tax authorities sent him a note March 27 telling him he will not be given a public trial but a "written hearing." They sent him another note Thursday saying he must pay the 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes he was already ordered to pay, and that he can make no further appeals.

Ai, who was found guilty of tax evasion last year, said he plans to sue the tax authorities.

Chinese authorities detained Ai for 81 days last year and later ordered him to pay the 15 million yuan in back taxes they said he owed through his company, Fake Cultural Development Ltd.

Ai Weiwei posts tax bill online
Defiant Chinese throw money to Ai Weiwei

Ai paid 8.45 million yuan ($1.3 million) late last year so he could contest the charges. Had he not paid the sum, he said at the time, his wife would have been jailed.

Ai's family and human rights advocates have said they believe the Chinese government is targeting him for his criticism of the regime.

An internationally renowned artist, Ai's works -- often with political undercurrents -- command hundreds of thousands of dollars. His 2010 installation at the Tate Modern in London involved 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds, each one hand-painted by specialists in China, spread on the floor of the museum's large entrance hall.

Ai helped design Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Olympics, though he later spoke against the Games.

CNN's Judy Kwon contributed to this report.

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