The Chinese artist who famously designed Beijing’s “Bird Nest” for the 2008 Olympics reported that he just found several hidden listening devices in his studio – likely installed by the Chinese government four years ago. Dissident artist Ai Weiwei posted pictures of the bugs on his Instagram account over the weekend.
In the past, Ai has upset Chinese authorities because of his bold criticisms of the Communist government. He was arrested and detained in 2011 for supposed tax evasion, which he describes as politically motivated. He was released after spending 81 days in prison. Authorities withheld his passport and only returned it to him four years later.
It was only after Ai recently returned to Beijing following his trip to Germany and England that he discovered the listening devices. During renovation of his studio, he began to spot the bugs in his office, living room and bedroom.
Ai reported to CNN that “[it’s] a professional job. It is easy to identify: a tiny microphone, a receiver and a 6-volt electronic transmitter. It’s maybe there for years or set in after I was released. It only could be a job by [public security bureau] or [national security] which I wouldn’t know.”
The artist acknowledged that he figured he was probably under surveillance due to his critical views of the government, but finding the devices was still unnerving.
“When I found these bugs, I had a strange feeling. Even though I was quite sure that these technologies have existed and the authorities have been using them for some unspeakable purpose, it’s just like [when] you know a snake exists but when you see it, you feel such a chill. It has been there, so close to me and for an unknown length of time. You start to imagine the people on the other end of the line who receive every single sound, and every voice I have ever made. The feeling is quite different.”
Ai also noted that, “It will make you think why the authorities are so interested to interfere in a private area without being noticed. It may be the only way besides force that they can take advantage of people. [A] society that gives up the values on trust and respect leads to no future.”