Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan has been jailed for four years for covering Covid-19 from Wuhan
Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan jailed for four years after she reported on China’s COVID-19 crisis from Wuhan. The 37-year-old was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, confirms her lawyer.
Ms Zhang is one of several citizen journalists who have run into trouble for reporting on Wuhan.
There is no free media in China and authorities are known to clamp down on activists or whistleblowers seen as undermining the government’s response to the outbreak, reports BBC.
Ren Quanniu, one of Zhang Zhan’s lawyers, expressed serious concern for her physical and mental wellbeing, saying she was very weak and on hunger strike. Mr Ren said his client “looked devastated” when her sentence was announced and her mother sobbed loudly.
Zhang’s Video Interview With An Independent Film Maker
In a video interview with an independent filmmaker before her arrest, Ms Zhang 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 streets and hospitals in livestreams and essays, 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.
“Maybe I have a rebellious soul… I’m just documenting the truth. Why can’t I show the truth?” she said in a clip of the interview obtained by the BBC.
“I won’t stop what I’m doing because this country can’t go backwards.”
Leo Lan, a research and advocacy consultant at the CHRD, said Ms Zhang’s latest sentencing was “alarming”.
“[Her] sentence is so heavy. The Chinese government is very determined to silence her and intimidate other citizens who tried to expose what happened in Wuhan,” he told the BBC.
“I’m concerned about the fate of other detained citizens who also reported news about the pandemic.”
Several other citizen journalists who reported from Wuhan – Li Zehua, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin – went missing earlier this year.
Li eventually resurfaced, saying he was forcibly quarantined, while Chen is reported to be staying with family but under government supervision. The whereabouts of Fang Bin are still unknown.
This report has been retrieved from BBC.
Featured Image: Youtube