Chinese artist, dissident and sometimes popstar Ai Weiwei has been denied a six-month visa by the British government over claims that he had submitted false information on his visa application form (he didn’t).
According to a letter from the UK Visas and Immigration Department, which Ai posted to his Instagram account, the artist’s visa was restricted to 20 days because of his failure to declare a “criminal conviction”.
“It is a matter of public record that you have previously received a criminal condition in China, and you have not declared this,” the letter read.
Ai, who had been detained for 81 days in 2011, has never actually been convicted of a crime in his home country, prompting supporters of the artist to criticize the UK government for the restriction.
“You were kidnapped, not arrested… Such injustice,” one netizen commented below the picture.
“This is not just about a visa. This is politics, and it looks like they are afraid of something. Ai Weiwei bothers, and that is the reason he is a great artist,” another web user wrote.
In another post to his Instagram account, it is explained that “Ai, who has never been charged or convicted of a crime, attempted to clarify this claim with the UK Visas and Immigration Department and the British Embassy in Beijing over several telephone conversations, but the representatives insisted on the accuracy of their sources and refused to admit any misjudgment.”
Ai plans on attending the opening of his exhibition installation at the Royal Academy of Arts, which runs from September 19 to December 13. Ai’s visit had been restricted to September 9 through September 29, just before Chinese president Xi Jinping’s trip to the UK in October.
The artist just retrieved his passport earlier this month, after it’d been in possession of the government for around four years.