A Chinese court upheld a £1.5 million tax evasion fine against China's most famous dissident Ai Weiwei today, ending his long legal battle with the authorities but paving the way for him to be jailed if he does not pay.
The loss of Ai's second appeal in a higher court means that the world-renowned artist could risk arrest if he does not pay a remaining fine of around 6.6 million yuan (£620,000), in a case that has further tarnished China's poor human rights reputation.
He has paid a bond of 8.45 million yuan already lodged with the tax authorities to contest the tax charge.
Ai, whose 81-day detention last year sparked an international outcry, told Reuters he will not pay the remaining fine as that would be tacit acknowledgement of the case's legality, which he has always maintained is trumped up.
Ai said he is uncertain whether he faces arrest if he doesn't do so.
"If I need to go to jail, there's nothing I can do about it," Ai said. "This country has no fairness and justice, even if I've paid the 6 million yuan, I still could possibly go to jail. They don't need an excuse to arrest me - they can always find another excuse at any time."
The case is widely seen by activists as an attempt to muzzle the outspoken artist, who has repeatedly criticised the Chinese government for flouting the rule of law and the rights of citizens.