China artist Ai Weiwei 'released on bail'

Detained Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has been freed, state media report.

He was released on bail after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

His family members have told BBC Chinese they know nothing of his reported release.

An outspoken critic of China's human rights record, Mr Ai was arrested in April as he boarded a Beijing flight bound for Hong Kong.

Beijing alleges the artist had evaded taxes and destroyed evidence; his supporters say the charges are motivated by his activism.

Xinhua reported that the 54-year-old - who, it said, was suffering from "chronic illness" - had offered to repay the taxes and would be released because of "his good attitude in confessing his crimes".

Police said the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, the company that handles the business aspects of Mr Ai's career, had evaded "a huge amount of taxes and intentionally destroyed accounting documents", said Xinhua.

China's foreign ministry previously said that Mr Ai was under investigation for "economic crimes". It also insisted that his case had "nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression".

recommended by Darius Kadivar