Ai Weiwei will now be able to leave China for the first time in four years as the controversial artist has had his passport returned to him by the Chinese government. Weiwei first had his passport revoked back in 2011 after being arrested and placed under house arrest for 81 days in relation to allegations of tax evasion — just one of his countless run-ins with the regime. At the time of his arrest, the incident saw the artist pleading via video for the return of the passport while fans and protesters launched an “Ai Can’t Be Here” campaign to draw attention to the predicament.
Speaking to The Guardian, Weiwei said he plans to go to Germany to visit his 6-year-old son while the newly-bestowed freedom came completely out of the blue:
I have no idea why. This is not something I can say… I feel pleased. This was something that needed to be done… I think they should have given it back some time ago and maybe after so many years they understand me better.