It’s now been more than a month and a half since artist Ai Weiwei was detained by officials as he attempted to leave his native China. Up until this week, among the protests, international calls for his release, and more associates of his being detained than released, no one but those officials had seen Weiwei nor had any idea of his whereabouts or condition. However, his wife, Lu Qing, was finally granted access to see her husband. Her reports back to the media imply that, while healthy, Weiwei has suffered pronounced mental strain:
“He has changed. His mood and demeanor are so different from the simple and spontaneous Ai Weiwei I know,” Lu said Monday. “It was obvious that without freedom to express himself he was not behaving naturally even with me.”
The AP reports that the meeting was held in an undisclosed location, but is believed to be somewhere just outside of Beijing. The couple were reportedly watched closely as they met, and were instructed not to discuss any of the charges against Weiwei, whatever those may be (the government has only stated “economic crimes.” Here’s a bit more:
Lu said that during the brief meeting Ai was not handcuffed and was wearing his own clothes instead of a detention center uniform. His trademark beard had not been shaven. Still, he “seemed conflicted, contained, his face was tense.”
Lu said the people who arranged the visit, who showed her no identification, made it clear that the scope of her questions had to be kept very narrow.