Asia-Pacific

Ai Weiwei supporters arrested in Hong Kong for graffiti

Ai Weiwei poses with his installation Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern gallery in London in October 2010
Image caption Ai Weiwei is a successful artist and a vocal critic of the Chinese government

Police in Hong Kong have arrested two activists for spray-painting slogans in support of the detained Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei.

The two men were later freed on bail.

Mr Ai - who in recent months became an outspoken critic of China's human rights record - has not been heard from since he, too, was arrested in Beijing last month.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy party said the arrest of the activists amounted to persecution.

Worldwide reputation

The pro-democracy League of Social Democrats (LSD) described the arrests as "very wrong", the AFP news agency reported.

"The graffiti are a form of freedom of expression. The arrest was akin to helping the mainland Chinese government to crack down on dissidents," party vice-president Avery Ng told AFP.

Protesters have mounted a sporadic graffiti campaign in Hong Kong on behalf of Mr Ai.

The Chinese authorities say they are investigating him for economic crimes - as yet unspecified.

The artist was detained at Beijing airport while passing through security checks for a flight to Hong Kong.

Ai Weiwei's reputation is worldwide. He helped design the main stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

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