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Ai Weiwei's mother accuses officials of hounding her son

Mother of Chinese artist and activist tells Guardian the actions of officials were 'creepy, crooked, evil'

The mother of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has accused officials of hounding her son, describing their approach as "creepy, crooked, evil".

Gao Ying said she was speaking up because she feared Ai – who was detained for almost three months this spring – would lose his freedom again. He faces a £1.5m tax bill, which well-wishers have pledged to help him pay.

"My heart is hurt … How come they don't act according to the law?" she asked.

"As a mother, I love this country, I love the people and I want this country to have a good image globally. But these events are too shameful. How come so many things of this kind happen to him? Isn't this hounding him?"

She said officials did not want her to talk to the media, but told the Guardian: "I don't care … I have to stand up to speak, otherwise I am not qualified to be a mother.

"This is what I want. I am having my voice heard and want them to hear what I believe."

Ai's family believe the 15m yuan bill – and his earlier detention – are retaliation for his outspokenness and activism, but state media have accused him of evading tax.

In a separate interview with the Human Rights in China group, Gao complained the tax bill was "astronomical", adding: "The deadline for payment is so tight that not even robbing banks could help."

She said her son had merely stood up to defend the rights of ordinary people, asking: "Is it fair to casually turn a person into an enemy, and an object of hatred? I have these words for the authorities: [it is a] creepy, crooked, evil way."

The 80-year-old added that Ai had to inform officials every time he visited her and that he had been tailed by a state security officer throughout her birthday celebrations.

The family once enjoyed much better relations with authorities. Gao's husband, Ai Qing, was one of China's most revered poets; when he died, Hu Jintao – now Chinese president, and then a member of the Politburo – visited their home to pay respects on behalf of the leadership.

Gao said she had replaced a photograph capturing that meeting with a family snapshot, because looking at it had made her uncomfortable during her son's detention.

Thousands of supporters have sent Ai money to pay the first part of the tax demand, allowing him to challenge the charge. He has said he is accepting loans, rather than donations, and will repay his well-wishers. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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