China jails citizen journalist Zhang Zhan for Wuhan reports

China jails citizen journalist Zhang Zhan for Wuhan reports
The former lawyer was detained in May. Source: YOUTUBE/SCREENSHOT
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Daily US Times: Zhang Zhan, a Chinese citizen journalist who covered Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan has been jailed for four years.

The journalist was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, which is a frequent charge against activists.

Ms Zhang was detained in May and has been on hunger strike for several months. Her lawyers say the 37-year-old former lawyer is in poor health.

Ms Zhang is one of several citizen journalists in the country who have run into trouble for reporting on the outbreak in Wuhan.

There is no free media in China and authorities are known to clamp down on whistleblowers and activists seen as undermining the government’s response to the outbreak.

Ren Quanniu, who was one of her defence lawyers, said: “Zhang Zhan looked devastated when the sentence was announced.”

Mr Ren added that the journalist’s mother, who was in court, sobbed loudly as the verdict was read out.

In a video interview with an independent filmmaker before her arrest, journalist Zhang Zhan said she decided to travel to Wuhan in February after reading an online post by a resident about life in the city during the outbreak.

Once there, she began documenting what she saw on the hospitals and streets in essays and livestreams, despite threats by authorities, and her reports were widely shared on social media.

The rights group Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders said her reports also covered the detention of other independent journalists and the harassment of families of victims who were seeking accountability.

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