Artist and activist Ai Weiwei lost his appeal against a US$2.4 million fine for back taxes, a measure interpreted as retaliation for his political activism, The Associated Press reported. The fine was levied last year following his release from detention, when he had been held in a broad crackdown on dissent. Ai’s appeal accused the tax bureau of violating laws in handling witnesses, collecting evidence and gathering company accounts. The Beijing No. 2 People’s Intermediate Court denied the appeal for the second and final time. Ai said that for such a fast growing country, China “still has the most barbaric and backward legal system,” adding that authorities denied him basic rights, failed to follow basic procedures and still have not returned his passport to him. Ai already paid a guarantee on his US$2.4 million fine, which will now be collected by the bureau, in part through money donated through wire transfers and cash stuffed in an envelope, tied to fruit or otherwise thrown into his yard.