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U.K. Officials Instructed To Grant Ai Weiwei's Original U.K. Visa Request

Ai Weiwei's original application for a six-month business visa was denied.
Miguel Villagran
Getty Images
Ai Weiwei's original application for a six-month business visa was denied.

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was originally granted only a 20-day visa to visit Britain, will now receive the six-month visa he applied for. A spokesperson for the U.K. Home Office explains that the head of the department, Theresa May, was not consulted over the staff's decision to allow only a shorter stay.

"She has reviewed the case and has now instructed Home Office officials to issue a full six-month visa," the spokesperson says. "We have written to Mr. Ai apologizing for the inconvenience caused."

We wrote Thursday on The Two-Way that Ai had been restricted to the 20-day visa because the office says he didn't list a criminal conviction on his application:

" In a post on his Instagram account, Ai says he has never been charged with or convicted of a crime. But, he continues, the British immigration office cites a criminal conviction in China that is 'a matter of public record,' which Ai says refers to his 'secret detention by the Chinese authorities in 2011.'

" As we reported, Ai was detained by authorities in 2011 as he was trying to fly to Hong Kong. Authorities took his passport, kept him in custody for 81 days and eventually fined him $2.4 million for tax evasion."

Ai has yet to post anything on his social media accounts about the change in his visa's status.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lucy Perkins