In a fresh crackdown on its citizens, an independent Chinese journalist who reported on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan city has been awarded four years jail term by a Shanghai Court
Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer, was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, one of her defence lawyers Zhang Keke informed. These vaguely-defined charges are often used by the Chinese government to target dissidents and human rights activists and journalists.
Zhang’s lawyer added the journalist is being accused of “publishing large amounts of fake information” along with interviewing overseas media outlets to “maliciously stir up the Wuhan Covid-19 epidemic situation”.
Zhang, 37, had traveled about 400 miles from Shanghai to Wuhan in early February to report on the government’s handling of the pandemic as the authorities imposed a strict lockdown.
The former lawyer had taken to social media and much of her live reporting and essays were posted on YouTube and Twitter, a platform that is banned in Beijing, before she was arrested by Wuhan police and brought back to Shanghai.
Zhang had shown strong resistance to her detention by going on a hunger strike.
According to a report by World News, she is being force fed with a nasal tube. Also, her hands have been restrained at her waist in order to prevent her from removing the tube.
However, she is not the only one who seems to have been targeted by Beijing. She is among at least 47 journalists currently under detention in China.
Three other citizen journalists — Chen Quishi, Fang Bin and Li Zehua —disappeared from public view soon after documenting the ground situation in Wuhan, which was the epicenter of the pandemic.
Controlling the information flow during the unprecedented global health crisis has been pivotal in allowing China’s communist authorities to reframe the narrative in their favour.
The development comes at a time when the Dragon is engaged in appealing to the world about its “extraordinary” success in containing the virus and supplying “coronavirus vaccines to poorest countries”.