China Blocks Well-Known Artist Ai Weiwei from Boarding Plane to Hong Kong

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BEIJING (AP).- China blocked one of its most famous contemporary artists from taking a flight to Hong Kong on Sunday and police later raided his Beijing studio, the man’s assistant said. The artist, Ai Weiwei, is an outspoken government critic and has been barred from going abroad before. China has launched a massive crackdown on lawyers, writers and activists, arresting and detaining dozens since February when online calls for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa began to circulate. Ai has been keeping an informal tally of those detentions on Twitter, where he has more than 70,000 followers. The studio assistant, who asked not to be identified by name, said Ai was going through customs at the Beijing Capital International Airport early Sunday when two officials escorted him away, leaving a traveling companion to board the flight alone.