Colleagues of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei released

By the Associated Press | June 24, 2011 | 11:15 PM EDT

BEIJING (AP) — A close friend of recently released Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says officials have released Ai's colleagues after more than two months of detention.

Liu Xiaoyuan said Saturday that Ai confirmed to him that driver Zhang Jinsong, accountant Hu Mingfen and designer Liu Zhenggang were released around the same time Ai was.

Liu Yanping, a volunteer who works with Ai and a friend of another detainee, Wen Tao, says Wen has also been released.

Ai, who challenged the government before his detention, was one of the most prominent activists detained in China's recent crackdown on dissent.

He was detained April 3 and released Wednesday after confessing to tax evasion. Ai says he is not allowed to talk about his case, but his family and supporters dispute the charge.