Ai Weiwei ordered to switch off studio webcams


7 April 2012

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese activist and artist, has turned off the live feed from surveillance cameras he installed in his home, after authorities who have been watching him for years objected to the devices.

The 54-year-old created a site showing images from four webcams in his studio – including one over his bed – so supporters and police could monitor him around the clock, he said. The launch of the site, weiweicam.com, on 3 April marked the first anniversary of his disappearance last year, when he was seized by officials and held for more than two months. The site has now been removed from the internet.

Ai said he wanted to reassure sympathisers who may worry about his whereabouts, and police who were concerned by what he might do.

But the authorities were clearly unhappy about what he described as a gift to them, ordering him to turn off the webcams on Thursday.

"There was no clear explanation, but there was no clear explanation of why I was detained for 81 days, so it would be ridiculous to ask them," he said.

"When I turned the cameras on myself and on to my privacy – which is exactly what they did to me when I was in detention – they got scared and didn't know how to handle it."


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