Ai Wei Wei, 53, one of China's most prominent artists and an outspoken critic in China, was detained at the Beijing's airport by security agents when he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong on Apr. 3, 2011 and he was arrested on suspicion of "economic crimes on Thursday.
According to the Washington Post, this arrest appeared to the government's concern on activists in China who want to launch a "jasmine revolution" which is similar to the protest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Some anonymous began to launched "jasmine rallies" in China on the Internet, and about 26 people have been arrested, 30 have disappeared, and 200 people's movement were restricted since mid-February, the group Chinese Human Right Defenders told the Washington Post.
Nicholas Bequelin, Hong-Kong based China researcher for Human Rights Watch, told the Washington Post that this arrest was an effort by the China government to redraw the lines of permissible expression and to restrict the most outspoken advocates of global values.
The New York Times reported that "economic crimes" is frequently used as a legal cover by police officers who wish to detain or imprison someone when Communist Party officials consider them as a political threat.
Ai's mother, Gao Ying, 78, told the New York Times that the arrest was ridiculous and the government have no right to keep them guessing why and where the government was holding her son.
Indeed, Ai's movement had restricted by the government since last year. He was stopped at Beijing's airport when he wanted to fly to South Korea to attend the Nobel ceremony for Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, faced the same charge and received an 11-year prison sentence. Also, he was prevented from having a solo exhibition of his work at a Beijing gallery this year, the Washington Post reported.
Not only Ai was arrested, but also Ai's assistants were detained and questioned in these few days. Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the Public Security Bureau was conduction an investigation according to law. China is a country under the rule of law, and relevant authorities will work according to law. Hong also said other countries have no right to interfere, according to the New York Times.
Some Chinese had denounced Ai's detention on microblogs and Web sites, and to circulate petitions demanding his release, the New York Times reported. Ai, 53, was the artistic director for the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium He was an active Twitter user has 72,000 follower.