Asia-Pacific

Detained China artist Ai Weiwei gets first family visit

Ai Weiwei poses with his installation Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern gallery in London in October 2010
Image caption Ai Weiwei was arrested trying to board a Hong Kong-bound plane out of Beijing

The detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been allowed his first contact with his family since his arrest more than 40 days ago.

The artist met his wife at an unknown location on Sunday and told her he is well, his sister told the BBC.

Mr Ai is said to be under investigation for suspected "economic crimes".

The artist is a vocal critic of the government, complaining about a lack of basic freedoms and often incorporating these political themes into his work.

Ai Weiwei's wife Lu Qing was taken by Chinese police to meet her husband on Sunday afternoon.

The artist's sister told the BBC Lu Qing was summoned to a police station and taken to another location where she was allowed a brief meeting with her husband.

Mrs Lu does not know where that location was, but thinks it was only used for the meeting - she said she did not believe her husband was being held there.

She reported that Mr Ai told her those holding him were taking good care of him, he was healthy and she should not worry.

However the meeting was very brief, she said, and there were many other people present, some of them taking notes, so she was afraid to talk much more with her husband.

The family were then warned by police not to discuss the visit with the media as they were told it could "be bad for Mr Ai's case".

His family had been demanding to know if he was safe and well as more than 43 days have passed since Mr Ai was detained by police at Beijing's airport, says the BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing.

He had not been allowed any contact with his lawyers or his family.

Calls by artists and governments worldwide for information had not produced any response from China's authorities.

China's foreign ministry has insisted that Mr Ai's case has "nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression".

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