Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei says he wants to use his battle with the tax authorities to expose the Communist regime.
Aided by wellwishers’ donations from far and wide, he has paid a bond of almost a million euros to begin an appeal against a huge tax demand.
“More or less, (I feel) like I was a hostage half year ago. Now I pay the ransom, and I feel I was robbed. But, you know, officially,” he said as he made his way to the local tax bureau to begin the appeal procedure.
“Are you free to fly around, to leave the country?”, asked a reporter.
“Ha, what a question!” he replied.
The authorities have sent the 54-year-old a bill for 1.7 million euros, accusing him of tax evasion.
The case is said to be complicated because the company involved is owned by his wife.
Ai has described the process as outrageous and politically motivated, and says he intends to pay back his supporters once the case is over.
The tax bill followed his release from detention in June; he had been held for nearly three months as part of a government crackdown on dissidents.
The Chinese authorities have not commented on the case.