BEIJING - China's most famous dissident, Ai Weiwei, said on Friday police had barred him from court to hear the verdict on his appeal against a $2 million fine for tax evasion, a case that critics accuse Beijing of using to muzzle the outspoken artist.

Ai is urging a Beijing court to overturn the city tax office's rejection of his appeal against the penalty imposed on the company he works for, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., which produces his art and designs.

The dissident told Reuters that police have barred him from showing up in court and that he has "absolutely no hope" it will rule in his favor.

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