Thousands send money to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei to help pay tax bill

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BEIJING (AP).- Thousands of people have sent more than $800,000 to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, some tossing cash folded into airplanes over his gate, to help him pay a tax bill they see as government harassment, he said Monday. A state-run newspaper criticized the outpouring and warned it could be illegal. The donation campaign — also in the form of wire transfers and cash stuffed in envelopes or wrapped around fruit that is thrown into his yard — is rare for Chinese dissidents because of the threat of retaliation that comes with supporting high-profile government critics. Nearly 20,000 people have sent more than 5.3 million yuan ($840,000) since he announced a week ago that the Beijing tax bureau was demanding that he pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes and fines, Ai said. “This shows that a group of people who want to express their views are using their money to cast their votes,” Ai told The Associated Press. “It shows that in the Internet age,