July 13, 2011 / 3:45 PM / 9 years ago

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei accepts Berlin post

BERLIN (Reuters) - Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has accepted a visiting teaching post at the Berlin University of the Arts, the university said Wednesday, but it did not know when he could leave China to take up the position.

The prominent 54-year-old artist and critic of China’s ruling Communist Party was released last month from more than two months in detention for suspected tax evasion, and is currently not allowed to talk to the media.

His detention sparked criticism from Western governments over China’s treatment of rights activists.

University President Martin Rennert called Ai’s response a “positive signal” he would be able to assume his post soon.

The university made its offer to the artist in April, shortly after he was stopped from boarding a flight to Hong Kong from Beijing and detained by border police.

The detention of the artist and four of his associates marked the start of a case the Chinese government said was about suspected tax evasion, while Ai’s supporters said it was a way to muzzle government critics.

Beijing’s tax authorities have asked Ai to pay 12 million yuan ($1.9 mln) in back taxes and fines.

Ai, who has ties to the German capital, said in March before his arrest that he planned to open a studio in Berlin as his European base.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Sophie Hares

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