The lawyer for Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei said his client lost his appeal Friday against a $2.4 million tax evasion fine on a company he founded.
Pu Zhiqiang said the Beijing Chaoyang District court rejected an appeal against the fine levied on Fake Cultural Development Limited, a firm that markets Ai's art. Ai was not allowed to attend the heavily-guarded hearing.
Ai told reporters at his studio in Beijing that he was very disappointed by the ruling, saying, "Today's verdict means that after 60 years of the founding of our nation, we still lack the basic legal procedures, the truth is not respected. They do not give taxpayers or citizens any right to defend oneself."
He added, "The whole legal system is in a dark state right now." He also said he will sue the Chaoyang court in a higher court.
Ai's supporters say the case is part of the government's effort to muzzle the Chinese government's most famous critic, who speaks out about human rights via the media and through his artwork.
Ai spent 81 days in detention last year as part of a roundup of dissidents. His arrest sparked an international outcry. Since his release, he has been under constant guard and his movements severely limited.
Many of his fans contributed money to his legal expenses, some by folding it into paper planes flung over the walls of the courtyard of his home.
Ai's sculpture, photography, and installations are exhibited worldwide.