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After 5 million views in 2 days, China orders Ai Weiwei to turn off webcams

Ed Jones / AFP - Getty Images

Artist Ai Weiwei holds a webcam that he was reportedly ordered by Chinese police to disconnect at his home in Beijing on Thursday.

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei turned off four live webcams in his home late Wednesday after Chinese authorities ordered him to take them down. The live stream had been viewed around 5.2 million times in two days, he told NBC News.

Ai had launched the live video at weiweicam.com on April 3, the one-year anniversary of his detention at Beijing's international airport. He was held for three months during a crackdown on dissent and was subsequently fined 15 million yuan ($2.4 million) for alleged tax evasion, which he denies.

"I wanted them to see me on the first anniversary of my detention," Ai told NBC News in a phone interview on Thursday. "I'm still under surveillance from the public security."

Chinese authorities called him and said they "noticed I put something out on the Internet," and said they hoped he would take it down, Ai told NBC.

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"And I asked them, 'Is that an order?' And they said 'Yes, it's an order,'" Ai said.

He was not given a reason for the order, The Guardian newspaper reported.

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Despite having to turn off the live stream, Ai said he had still sent out a message.

"It's about power and individual creativity and about the Internet and about the privacy. You know, this issue about intruding into other people's privacy."

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