Last week we posted that artist/activist Ai Weiwei had announced that he was planning to leave his native China, following a tumultuous couple of years that included beatings by government officials and the destruction of his new studio in Shanghai. His goal was to temporarily set up shop in Berlin, but like last December when he tried to travel to South Korea, he only made it as far as the airport. The Guardian reports that Weiwei was detained at Beijing’s airport by officials, was whisked away to an unknown location, his studio has been searched and his wife and assistants briefly detained and questioned. As of this writing, his whereabouts are still unknown, roughly 48 hours after he was initially stopped. In response, both France and Germany have demanded his release and Amnesty International has issued a statement saying his detention is “a troubling development in a widening crackdown on dissent.” Here is a brief description of the initial arrest by Weiwei’s assistant, Jennifer Ng:
The documents of both were checked thoroughly before Ms Ng was allowed to continue on her journey to Hong Kong.
She has told the BBC that Mr Ai was taken away by border guards and she was told to board the flight alone.