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JISHOU, HUNAN — Chinese authorities have apparently detained artist Ai WeiWei, after they prevented him from flying overseas from Hong Kong’s airport on Sunday. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Ai WeiWei

Artist Ai WeiWei (AP file photo)

Following the public protests in several Middle Eastern and North African countries, China’s political bosses have been rounding up dissidents left and right, in an effort to quell any similar movements here.

Ai has had several run-ins with authorities already. He was blocked from attending the ceremony awarding Liu Xiaobo (who is in prison) the Nobel Peace Prize, one of his art studios near Shanghai was bulldozed, and in recent weeks, the cops have visited his offices and studios several times.

The artist, who designed the Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium, had been keeping a running tally of dissident detentions on a Twitter feed that had 70,000 followers. I guess the politicos didn’t like that many people knowing what they’re up to.

The AP has the story, though The Guardian has a more detailed one.

Incidentally, the Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression. It’s just applied very selectively.

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