Six weeks after Chinese authorities scooped him up at the Beijing airport to be held on vague charges, acclaimed international artist Ai Weiwei was finally permitted to see his wife on Sunday. It marked the first time anyone from the outside world had seen Ai since his detention.
Ai told his wife that he hadn't been tortured, although he made the claim in the presence of police officers. Family and friends had become deeply concerned after (anonymous) reports began to surface that he had been tortured and compelled to sign a confession admitting tax evasion.
"The rumors that we've heard about him being tortured have been too much for us to take, but now seeing is believing," Ai's mother told Reuters.
China has steadfastly refused to bow to international pressure on the Ai case, brushing aside the criticism and blasting Ai in official state-run media. His supporters think the investigation into vague "economic crimes" is just a front for their efforts to silence Ai, who has been an outspoken critic of China's authoritarian rulers.
Despite his ongoing detention, Ai's work continues to be shown around the world, with installations opening recently in New York City and London. Another global art star, Anish Kapoor, used the opening of his latest exhibit at Paris' Grand Palais last week to speak out against the Chinese government. He called Ai's arrest "barbaric."