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Artist Ai Weiwei begins to return cash to supporters

BEIJING -- Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei said Wednesday he had begun returning US$1.3 million donated by supporters for his unsuccessful legal battle against tax authorities.

Supporters helped Ai raise the cash, which was required as a bond to contest a US$2.4 million fine by the Beijing tax bureau last year. A city court rejected his final appeal last month.

“We have made our best effort and gone all the way through the legal procedure as much as we can, but this is the moment that we should pay supporters back because we cannot go any further,” he told AFP.

Ai said he would attempt to pay back as many of the 30,000 donors as possible, and made the first installment on Tuesday to those who had donated between 1 cent and 10 yuan (US$1.6).

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