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The Chinese Government Finally Gave Ai Weiwei His Passport Back

The artist had been banned from traveling internationally since 2011.

by River Donaghey
Jul 22 2015, 6:20pm

Screenshot via Ai Weiwei's Instagram. Thumbnail image via Wikimedia Commons

Read: An Interview with the Persecuted Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei finally has his passport back after the Chinese government banned him from traveling internationally in 2011, CNN reports. The news broke this morning when Weiwei posted a photo to Instagram with the caption, "Today I got the passport."

The Chinese government initially confiscated Weiwei's passport four years ago, following an arrest and subsequent charge for tax evasion. The artist, who is best known for designing Beijing's Bird Nest stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics, has claimed that the government's case against him had more to do with his activism than back taxes.

Weiwei continued to put on shows around the world during his time grounded in China, working remotely to put on @Large show at Alcatraz last year and a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in 2013. He is unsure why the Chinese government has decided now is the time to give him back his passport.

"They have promised for the past four years to give it back," Weiwei told the New York Times in a phone interview. "Now finally they gave it to me."

Reuters says that the 57-year-old artist plans to travel to London in September for an exhibition of his previous works at the Royal Academy of Art. But first, he plans to visit Berlin where Ai Lao, his six-year-old son, and Ai Lao's mother have been living for the past year.