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China Bars Artist from Surveilling Himself

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (February 2012 file photo)
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (February 2012 file photo)

World-renowned artist Ai Weiwei says while authorities in China have no problem monitoring him around the clock, they do have a problem with him aiding their efforts.

The dissident artist said late Wednesday via Twitter that Chinese officials told him to shut down a website he was using to stream surveillance video of himself only 46 hours after it started running.

He tweeted, "Byebye to all the voyeurs."

The Chinese government prohibited Ai from leaving Beijing until June following his arrest last year on charges of tax evasion.  Officials have also put him under constant surveillance.

Ai, an outspoken social critic, installed four surveillance cameras in his home and had been streaming them on his site.

He told CNN International he did it to provide some comfort to fans and supporters. Ai said, "They felt helpless, they just do not know where I am and do no get any answer about it. So I want to give them an opportunity to share with my situation."

Ai also said Chinese authorities are already using numerous cameras to monitor his activity, including 15 within 100 meters of his house, calling it "absurd."

Ai was arrested in early April 2011 at the height of a crackdown on Chinese dissidents and activists, possibly prompted by fears of Middle East uprisings spreading to China.

Ai helped design the celebrated "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.  Recent media reports said he was using the online video messaging service Skype to help design a pavilion for London's 2012 Olympics.

Ai's work is set to be displayed in Washington at the Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery and the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum.

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