30/07/2015 08:51 BST | Updated 30/07/2015 08:59 BST

Ai Weiwei Royal Academy Show Narrowly Avoids Artist's Absence After Visa Denial

Johannes Simon via Getty Images
KASSEL, GERMANY - JUNE 13 Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei poses in front of his sculpture 'Template' during a media preview of Documenta 12 on June 13, 2007 in Kassel, Germany. The Documenta is 'one of the most important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art' which now takes place every five years in Kassel and will be open to the public June 16 - September 23. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has been denied a UK visa because he had a “criminal conviction” - despite apparently never having been convicted of a crime.

Ai posted an image of the letter from the British embassy in Beijing, which said denied him the six-month visa but said he would be “exceptionally” granted a 20-day visa for September, to his Instagram.

The artist said in a separate post that he had "never been charged or convicted of a crime".

A photo posted by Ai Weiwei (@aiww) on

He added that “representatives insisted on the accuracy of their sources and refused to admit any misjudgement".

The 20-day visa means he will be able to attend his show at London's Royal Academy of Arts.

Ai was detained in China for 81 days in 2011 but was never formally charged with any crime.


He had been an outspoken critic of the country’s ruling communist party.

According to the BBC, the Home Office said that visa applications were considered "on their individual merits and in line with the relevant legislation".

It added: "Mr Ai has been granted a visa for the full duration of his requested dates of travel".