Asia-Pacific

Ai Weiwei accepts Berlin lecturer role

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on 23 June, after his release
Image caption The terms of Ai Weiwei's bail prevent him from speaking publicly

Chinese artist and government critic Ai Weiwei has accepted an offer to join the Berlin University of the Arts as a visiting lecturer, it has said.

The university said it was unclear when he would begin the role because of legal problems in China following his release from three months in detention.

On Thursday, his design firm will challenge a bill of more than 12m yuan (£1.2m) in unpaid taxes and fines.

His family insists he is being targeted for his political activism.

Ai is one of the most prominent figures caught up in a recent crackdown on critics of the Communist Party.

'Good attitude'

University president Martin Rennert said he hoped Ai would take up his post "in the near future".

The university initially published the offer in April after he was first detained on charges of tax fraud.

He was released on 22 June after being held at a secret detention centre for 80 days with no access to a lawyer or contact with his family.

He was forced to miss the opening of his first outdoor sculpture exhibition in London, inspired by Chinese zodiac sculptures.

Chinese authorities said that, as part of bail conditions, Ai would continue to be investigated for at least a year and could not leave Beijing without permission.

They said he had been released because of his "good attitude in confessing his crimes" and because of health issues.

The terms of his bail prevent him from speaking out publicly.

His design company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development, will challenge the tax bill in a closed hearing on Thursday, asking for proof of the alleged tax evasion.

They will also ask for the return of the company's financial records, which were seized during Ai's detention.

The company, and Ai's supporters, have also called for the hearing to be made open to the public.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds exhibition was unveiled at the Tate Modern last year.

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