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Thousands send money to dissident artist Ai Weiwei to help pay tax bill

Ng Han Guan / AP

A man waits to contribute his money at the home of dissident artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing, China, on Nov. 7.

The AP reports from BEIJING:

Thousands of people have sent more than $800,000 to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, some tossing cash folded into airplanes over his gate, to help him pay a tax bill they see as government harassment, he said Monday.

A state-run newspaper criticized the outpouring and warned it could be illegal.

Ng Han Guan / AP

A woman logs onto a computer information from bundles of remittance receipts sent to the home of Ai Weiwei in Beijing on Nov. 7.

 

The donation campaign — also in the form of wire transfers and cash stuffed in envelopes or wrapped around fruit that is thrown into his yard — is rare for Chinese dissidents because of the threat of retaliation that comes with supporting high-profile government critics.

Nearly 20,000 people have sent more than 5.3 million yuan ($840,000) since he announced a week ago that the Beijing tax bureau was demanding that he pay 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) in back taxes and fines, Ai said. Continue reading.

Ng Han Guan / AP

Commemorative ceramic seeds from Ai Weiwei's "Sunflower Seeds" art installation are prepared in packets to send to people who contribute money to him, in Beijing on Nov. 7.

Read more in this story by msnbc.com's Miranda Leitsinger.

See a slideshow of Ai Weiwei's sunflower seed installation at Tate Modern in London.