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Artist Ai Weiwei released, Chinese police say

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Ng Han Guan/AP

(Read caption) Activist artist Ai Weiwei, right, shakes hand with unidentified foreign journalists gathered outside his home in Beijing, China, Wednesday, June 22. Chinese state media said Ai Weiwei has been released on bail after confessing to tax evasion, following three month in detention. Ai thanked reporters waiting outside his studio for their support but said under the conditions of his release he was not able to say more.

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Beijing police announced they had released jailed dissident and artist Ai Weiwei today "because of his good attitude in confessing his crimes," Xinhua news agency reported.

Two friends said the artist had confirmed, by text message, his release after more than two months of detention. Still, Mr. Ai's whereabouts remain unclear, and his family have yet to be notified officially of his release. "I'm back with my family," Ai told the Guardian. "I am very happy. I'm fine."

Ai's detention on April 3 prompted a global campaign for his release, and he became a fresh symbol of China's dissidents. An outspoken critic of China's human rights record, he went missing after he was detained by police at Beijing airport. His family and human rights activists believe his detention was retaliation for his social and political activism.

Officials claimed, when pressed, that he was detained on suspicion of economic crimes, but police did not notify, or apparently permit him to notify, his family of his arrest.

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