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Chinese journalist who covered Wuhan's virus outbreak face five years of jail

Wednesday, November 18th 2020 - 08:28 UTC
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Zhang Zhan is accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” - a charge often used against activists in China Zhang Zhan is accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” - a charge often used against activists in China

A Chinese citizen journalist who covered Wuhan's virus outbreak is facing up to five years in jail, according to newly released documents. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, has been held in detention since she was arrested in May.

She is accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” - a charge often used against activists in China.

Ms Zhang is not the first citizen journalist who has run into trouble for reporting on the then virus-hit Wuhan. At least three disappeared in February. One, Li Zehua, reappeared in April saying he had been “quarantining”.

It later emerged the second, Chen Qiushi, had been placed under government supervision, while the whereabouts of the third journalist, Fang Bin, is still unknown.

Chinese authorities are known to clamp down on activists who speak out.

According to an indictment sheet which has now emerged, Ms Zhang made her way to Wuhan in February, where she reported on numerous stories.

According to NGO the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), her reports included the detention of other independent journalists and the harassment of families of victims who were seeking accountability.

But on 14 May she went missing from Wuhan, says CHRD. A day later, it was revealed she had been detained by police in Shanghai, more than 640km away.

On 19 June, she was formally arrested in Shanghai. Almost three months later, on 9 September, her lawyer was granted a meeting with her.

The CHRD says Ms Zhang had gone on a hunger strike to protest against her arrest. On 18 September, her lawyer received a phone call that she had been indicted. She was formally charged last Friday.

The indictment sheet, which emerged on Monday, alleges she sent “false information through text, video and other media through [platforms like] WeChat, Twitter and YouTube”. She was also accused of accepting interviews with foreign media outlets and “maliciously spreading” information about the virus in Wuhan.

A sentence of four to five years was recommended.

This is not the first time Ms Zhan has run into trouble with authorities. According to CHRD, she was summoned by police in Shanghai in September 2019 and detained for voicing support for activists in Hong Kong.

She was reportedly forced to undergo psychiatric examination while in detention.

Tags: China, COVID-19, Wuhan.

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  • Don Alberto

    Not surprising in a country which reported
    19 June 2020 84494 cases and 4634 deaths
    29 June 2020 83500 cases and 4634 deaths (-991 cases!)
    07 July 2020 83611 cases and 4634 deaths
    02 August 2020 84385 cases and 4634 deaths
    Since then, not one single case and not one single death.

    Very convincing in a country with a population of 1,400,050,000, isn't it?

    86,381 cases of CoVid-19 and 4,634 deaths

    Nov 19th, 2020 - 06:01 pm 0
  • Freddy Worldwide

    Like many totalitarians, Xi has also instituted a so-called anti-corruption campaign. In the short term, this will likely help Xi secure a great deal of power. However, in the long run, I suspect it will create serious problems. An anti-corruption campaign is not the same as a pro-honesty campaign. Coercive anti-corruption efforts imposed by a totalitarian system will prove destructive. Xi’s coercive police state campaign teaches people to lie and tell the Chinese Communist Party (which is the government) whatever party leaders want to hear. This (along with many aspects of modern China) mirrors George Orwell’s 1984- only with modern technology and surveillance capabilities that seem to be beyond even Orwell’s imagination. In this system, truth is erased by fear. Loyalty becomes something that must be proven daily – with every thought, word, and deed. Mark my words: It will end badly. This is really what the people of Hong Kong are resisting. They see tyranny on their doorsteps. The smart ones left just before the Brits turned it over to Communist China.

    Nov 21st, 2020 - 08:44 pm 0
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