Since his release last June, he has been forbidden to leave Beijing and compelled to ask police for permission whenever he wants to leave the courtyard compound where he lives and works, on the north-eastern edge of the capital. He has also been the subject of intense surveillance. He is certain that his phones and computers are tapped. And he knows of at least 15 police surveillance cameras mounted within 100 metres of his home. Spotting them is easy, as the police have helpfully chosen to decorate each camera with a bright red lantern.
Not unreasonably, Mr Ai thought he was being helpful when he resolved to mark the anniversary by mounting four cameras of his own, covering nearly all his own movements, and streaming the live video footage onto the internet at a website he created, called weiweicam.com