A Beijing court has rejected an appeal by Chinese artist and government critic Ai Weiwei against a $2 million fine for tax evasion.
Ai, who spent 81 days in detention last year as police rounded up dissidents amid online calls for Arab Spring-style protests in China, was barred from attending the July 20 hearing.
Ai is still not allowed to leave the country.
His lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, says the court ruled that authorities used legal procedures in their case against Ai's design company.
Ai says the tax evasion case is part of a campaign to intimidate him.
Security was heavy outside the Beijing court, with plainclothes and uniformed police blocking roads and forcing media and diplomats to leave the area.
Based on reporting by AP and AFP