Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Barred From Court, Must Stay In China



BEIJING - Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei said Thursday that he'd been barred from attending a hearing on a tax evasion case that the Chinese government has ordered against a firm he founded. Chinese police authorities also warned Weiwei that he was not authorized to leave the country, Le Figaro reports.

A $2.1 million alleged bill looms over Weiwei in the tax evasion case, which Weiwei says is a repressive government measure designed to crush him. He told the AFP that he was able to raise enough money to appeal the decision thanks to 30,000 online contributors, but was barred from attending a hearing on Wednesday. The hearing was indefinitely postponed, and his lawyer and friend Liu Xiaoyuan was forced to leave Beijing.

The artist was released a year ago after three months of detention, and his movements will no longer be restricted within China. But he declared that "they are continuing to restrict my freedom of movement and to fabricate crimes." For instance, Weiwei could be accused of "pornography" by the Chinese authorities after a self-portrait he made with four naked women was published online, according to Figaro.

Here's his interview Thursday with the AFP:

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File:Parsin Gas and CNG Station in Karaj-Qazvin Freeway, Iran ...

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.

Khamenei, where's our gas?

Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"

Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.

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