Beijing Tax Authorities Seek Nearly $2 Million from Outspoken Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei

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BEIJING (AP).- Beijing tax authorities are seeking nearly $2 million in back taxes and fines from outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was released last week from nearly three months in detention, his close friend said Tuesday. Ai was released on bail last Wednesday and Chinese authorities said he confessed to tax evasion and pledged to repay the money owed. His family has denied he evaded any taxes and activists have denounced the accusation as a false premise for detaining Ai, who spoke out against the authoritarian government and its repression of civil liberties. The Beijing Local Taxation Bureau informed Ai that he owed around 5 million yuan ($770,000) in unpaid taxes and would be fined about 7 million yuan ($1.1 million) — totaling just over 12 million yuan ($1.85 million), said Beijing human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. Liu does not legally represent Ai, but has been a friend and supporter of the artist for many years. Chinese authorities sometimes try to silence c