Fans strip in support of China's Weiwei

Supporters of the Chinese artist have begun a new campaign to back him by posting nude pictures of themselves on the Internet

Ai Weiwei fans have again rallied behind the outspoken Chinese artist after he revealed he is being investigated on pornography charges -- by posting naked pictures of themselves online.

We are with Wei: A girl checks the blog where Weiwei's (left) fans have
posted their nude pictures. pics/afp

Supporters of Ai -- who disappeared into custody for 81 days earlier this year -- this month donated nearly nine million yuan (Rs 7.4 crore) to the artist after he was handed a huge bill for alleged back taxes.

Now, his fans are taking a different tack to counter a police investigation into photos of the 54-year-old in which he and a group of women pose nude, sitting on traditional wooden chairs in the middle of a bare white room.

Different route
Dozens of supporters have posted naked or part-naked photos of themselves on a blog page titled 'Ai Wei Fans' Nudity -- Listen, Chinese government: Nudity is not Pornography'.

Some of them are full-frontal and revealing. Others are more discreet, with pictures of the artist or the logo of state television CCTV placed across their private parts.

One man poses as sculptor Auguste Rodin's famous Thinker statue, one emulates Michelangelo's David, and yet another is sitting naked on a toilet, reading what looks like an iPad.

Ai, an artist of international renown whose vocal rights activism has irked the Chinese government, was taken into secret police detention in April and released in June.

He denies the charge of tax evasion, calling it politically motivated.

"When they detained me, they said 'this is pornography', but I just laughed, I said, 'do you know what is pornography?'" he said. "Nudity is not pornography."

He said he had not taken the charge seriously until his assistant was pulled in for questioning last week about his pictures.

"This is completely ridiculous. Our nation today is so corrupt, with so much sex, but they think nudity photos on the Internet is pornography," he said.

Ai's problems with the authorities started when he began investigating the collapse of schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and a 2010 fire at a Shanghai high-rise that killed dozens.

The artist caused another stir at the weekend when he published online the mobile numbers of four prominent figures in protest at blog posts and articles they had written about him, accusing them of trying to damage his reputation.

The number of followers artist Ai Weiwei has on Twitter

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