Detained artist Ai offered Berlin university post

BERLIN Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:46am EDT

Artists and activists carry portraits of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, urging for his release, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong April 17, 2011. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Artists and activists carry portraits of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, urging for his release, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong April 17, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Detained Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei has been offered a visiting teaching post at the Berlin University of the Arts, the university said on Wednesday. The prominent artist and critic of China's ruling Communist Party was stopped from boarding a flight to Hong Kong from Beijing on April 3 and detained by border police.

His detention has sparked criticism from Western governments over the treatment of rights activists.

Chinese police said the 53-year-old Ai was under investigation for "suspected economic crimes" and reports from government-controlled media alleged he avoided taxes.

The university's offer had been in the works since December. Last month the artist said he planned to open a studio in Berlin as his European base.

His work "Sunflower Seeds," an installation of millions of handmade porcelain seeds, is currently on show at Britain's Tate Modern museum. A 100 kg pile of the porcelain seeds fetched 349,250 pounds ($570,800) at auction in London in February.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Michel Rose and Sophie Hares)

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