Artist and dissident Ai Weiwei’s appeal against a tax evasion fine has been rejected by a Chinese court, his lawyer says.
Police barred Ai Weiwei from attending court in Beijing’s Chaoyang district to hear the verdict delivered.
Tax authorities imposed a 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) fine on Ai Weiwei’s firm for tax evasion in 2011.
Supporters say the fine is politically motivated and Ai Weiwei wanted the court to overrule the penalty.
”We will keep appealing, until the day comes when we have nothing to lose,” Ai Weiwei said via Twitter.
His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was in court for the verdict, told reporters that the ruling was ”totally without reason”.
Ai Weiwei’s appeal against a tax evasion fine has been rejected by a Chinese court
The artist, a outspoken critic of the government, was detained for almost three months without charge last year.
After he was released, he was accused of tax evasion and the fine imposed.
The Chinese authorities maintain that the firm, called Fake Cultural Development, owes them money and it must be paid back.
While Ai weiwei is a designer for Fake Cultural Development, his wife is the legal representative of his company.
The artist said earlier that police, stationed outside his home, had barred him from attending the court hearing.
”If I can’t even appear in court, what more does this country have to do with me?” he said over Twitter.
Security was tight at the court with reports of both uniformed and plainclothes police in the area and people, including journalists and diplomats, being turned away.
Ai Weiwei, 55, has said that the tax bill is pay-back for his activism and challenged it on the grounds that proper procedure had not been followed.
The Beijing court agreed to hear the case, in a surprise move.
“The entire judiciary is shrouded in darkness,” he said from his home in northeast Beijing after the verdict.
Born in 1957 in Beijing, Ai Weiwei, the son of one of China’s most famous poets, Ai Qing, has played a key role in contemporary Chinese art over the last two decades.
His involvement in the design of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium brought him international prominence.
But he fell out of favor with authorities with his outspoken criticism over the Olympics and the devastating May 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
In December 2010, he was among a group of activists and critics banned from travelling. A month later, his studio in Shanghai was demolished after officials said he had failed to obtain planning permission for the building.
He was then detained in April 2011 at Beijing airport.
New reports say Chinese authorities have begun to round up relatives and associates of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled from house arrest last week.
Several people involved in Chen Guangcheng’s escape have been detained or have disappeared in recent days, and fellow activist Hu Jia is being questioned.
Chen Guangcheng, 41, is believed to be sheltering at the US embassy in Beijing.
The US and international rights groups have frequently expressed alarm at the treatment of Chen Guangcheng and his family.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has demanded his release in the past, is due in China this week for a previously arranged meeting which is now likely to be overshadowed by Chen Guangcheng’s case.
Chinese authorities have begun to round up relatives and associates of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who fled from house arrest last week
The US government has not so far commented publicly on the whereabouts of Chen Guangcheng.
Analysts say the issue will be highly sensitive for both sides, and will not be easy to resolve.
If Chen Guangcheng is in the embassy, his case will raise memories of an incident in 1989 when another prominent activist, Fang Lizhi, fled to the US mission in Beijing.
He remained there for more than a year while the two sides attempted to broker a deal.
Chen Guangcheng was placed under house arrest in 2010 after spending more than four years in jail for disrupting traffic and damaging property.
He had exposed how local authorities in Linyi, Shandong province, forced thousands of women to have abortions or be sterilized as part of China’s one-child policy.
His colleagues said last Sunday’s escape had taken months to plan, and was carried out with the help of a network of friends and activists.
Chen Guangcheng scaled the wall that the authorities had built around his house, and was driven hundreds of miles to Beijing, where activists say he stayed in safe-houses before fleeing to the embassy.
His wife and six-year-old daughter remain under house arrest, but several of his family members have been detained and others are being sought by the authorities.
One of Chen Guangcheng’s friends, He Peirong – who wrote on her microblog that she had driven him to Beijing – is believed to have been detained in the city of Nanjing.
“I was actually talking to her and the last words she said were <<the PSB [Public Security Bureau] has arrived>>,” said Bob Fu, of the US-based ChinaAid pressure group.
He Peirong’s microblog was later deleted, and all searches on popular microblogging sites for Chen Guangcheng’s name and other related terms were being blocked by the censors.
On Saturday, the authorities detained Hu Jia, who had earlier said how he had met Chen Guangcheng since his escape.
Hu Jia’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, said late on Saturday that her husband’s detention had been extended for a further 24 hours.
“I asked where Hu Jia would sleep, they said on a chair,” Zeng Jinyan said.
The fate of other associates of Chen Guangcheng also remains unclear, with reports claiming several have disappeared.
The treatment of Chen Guangcheng and his family by local authorities has long been controversial.
Amnesty International regards him as a “prisoner of conscience” and has called on the authorities to end the “shameful saga” of his detention.