Minister Intervenes to Give Chinese Dissident Ai Weiwei Full UK Visa

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei leaves the airport in Munich
REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Home Secretary Theresa May has intervened to reverse a decision by her officials and grant dissident Chinese artist and free speech advocate Ai Weiwei a full six-month visa to enter Britain, her government department said on Friday.

On Thursday the artist, whose passport was returned by Chinese authorities last week four years after it was confiscated, said Britain had granted him only a short-stay visa.

He said this was because immigration officials said he had not declared a “criminal conviction”. Ai, who was detained for 81 days and had his passport confiscated four years ago, has never been charged nor convicted of a crime.

“The Home Secretary was not consulted over the decision to grant Mr Ai a one-month visa. She has reviewed the case and has now instructed Home Office officials to issue a full six-month visa,” a Home Office (interior ministry) spokeswoman said.

“We have written to Mr Ai apologising for the inconvenience caused.”

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