Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Denied Six-Month U.K. Visa

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been denied a six month business visa by the British government, which claims that he refused to disclose a criminal conviction.

Ai was seeking the visa in order to attend an exhibition of his work in London, according to Yahoo! News. The dissident artist has asserted, along with his lawyer, that a tax case leveled against him was administrative and not criminal in nature, yet his visa has been restricted to a three week limit. Ai contends that the restriction may prevent him from attending the planned show at the Royal Academy of Arts, which previews on Sept. 15 before an opening on Sept. 19.

“It is a matter of public record that you have previously received a criminal conviction in China, and you have not declared this,” read a letter from the British embassy to Ai.

Immigration officials have asserted that Ai submitted false information on his request for a visa, according to CNN. The artist was detained in 2011 for nearly three months, as part of a wider crackdown on dissent in China. A travel ban placed upon Ai was lifted only last week, and while the artist has been under police investigation for criminal charges, he has not been indicted. Ai and his lawyers have also asserted that accusations of tax evasion leveled against his design company (which resulted in a $2.4 million fine) amount to official retaliation against him.

“Ai, who has never been charged or convicted of a crime, attempted to clarify this claim with the UK Visas and Immigration Department and the British Embassy in Beijing over several telephone conversations, but the representatives insisted on the accuracy of their sources and refused to admit any misjudgment,” a post on Weiwei’s Instagram account read. “This decision is a denial of Ai Weiwei’s rights as an ordinary citizen, and a stand to take the position of those who caused sufferings for human rights defenders.”

The British Home Office noted that the visa it granted to Ai would cover the dates he had requested for his visit. The limited scope of the visa also means that Ai will have left the country by the time Chinese President Xi Jinping heads to Britain in October for a state visit, a fact that has caused some observers to see a political motivation behind the case.

One of the most prolific modern Chinese artists, as the Inquisitr has previously reported, Ai often utilizes his work to draw attention to corruption and injustice in the society of his home country. On Thursday, Ai Weiwei flew to Germany to visit his son, who resides there.

[Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images]