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China returns dissident artist Ai Weiwei's passport after four years

By
Amy R. Connolly
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said the Chinese government gave back his passport Wednesday, four years after a crackdown on political activists. Photo courtesy of Ai Weiwei/ Instagram
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said the Chinese government gave back his passport Wednesday, four years after a crackdown on political activists. Photo courtesy of Ai Weiwei/ Instagram

HONG KONG, July 22 (UPI) -- Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said the Chinese government suddenly gave back his passport Wednesday, four years after a crackdown on political activists.

Ai posted a photo on Instagram of himself holding a Chinese passport, saying "Today, I got my passport."

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Four years ago, Chinese authorities revoked Ai's passport, declining requests to allow him to leave the country. Ai, most noted for designing Beijing's iconic "Birds Nest" Olympic stadium, was taken into custody in 2011 and detained for 81 days in a government crackdown on political activism.

He was later accused of evading taxes and destroying accounting documents. He was released on probation in June 2011, but his passport was never returned.

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Ai said the case against him was related to his political activism. Wednesday, he said authorities gave him no indication of why he got his passport back now.

"I only can say why not? They have promised for the past four years to give it back. Now finally they gave it to me," he told the New York Times. "They always say it's in the process but I just need to be patient."

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今天,我拿到了护照。

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A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

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