Asia

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sets up live webcams at home

Ai Weiwei
Image caption The artist has been highly vocal about human rights issues in China

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has set up four live webcams at his home, in a nod to the 24-hour police surveillance he has lived under for the last year.

Mr Ai was detained in April 2011 during a crackdown on political activists and is now banned from leaving Beijing.

The artist told the AFP news agency that by installing the cameras - including above his bed - he hoped to encourage transparency from all sides.

He is currently fighting tax evasion charges related to his company.

The charges were brought against his company, Fake Cultural Development Ltd, when he was released from detention last June.

'Politically motivated'

Mr Ai said he had had "no clear answers" about why he was been charged and placed under surveillance.

"In my life, there is so much surveillance and monitoring... our office has been searched, I have been searched, every day I am being followed, there are surveillance cameras in front of my house," he told the AFP news agency.

"So I was wondering, why don't I put some [cameras] in there so people can see all my activities. I can do that and I hope the other party can also show some transparency."

Last week, Chinese authorities upheld an earlier decision to force Mr Ai's design company to pay a $2.4m (£1.55m) fine imposed by the tax bureau for ''back taxes''.

Activists have argued that the charges are politically motivated, as the internationally-renowned artist has at times been an outspoken critic of the government.

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