- A Chinese citizen-journalist jailed for 4 years by the Chinese Court
- The court handed the jail term noting the grounds as, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
- The Chinese citizen-journalist was reporting from the central city of Wuhan at a time when COVID-19 outbreak was at its peak
On Monday, a Chinese court handed a 4 year jail term to a citizen –journalist who was reporting from the central city of Wuhan at a time when the COVID-19 outbreak was at its peak in the country. Her lawyer said that the court, in its judgement, said, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” were the ground of the jail term.
The 37 year old Zhang Zhan was amongst the first people to be known to have been trialled, she was also among the handful of people whose firsthand accounts from the crowded hospitals and also the empty streets painted the dire picture of the impact of the pandemic on the epicentre than what was being stated in the official narrative.
The lawyer, Ren Quanniu, while talking to Reuters, said, “We will probably appeal,” and added that the trial took place at a court in Pudong, which is a district of Shanghai, China’s business hub, and the trial ended at around 12:30 PM with Zhang being sentenced to four years jail.
Quanniu, before the trial, said, “Ms Zhang believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech”.
China has faced major criticism of how it handled the crisis but that was censored, and the whistle-blowers including the doctors were warned. The state-run media houses credited the success in reining in the novel Coronavirus to the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
The novel Coronavirus spread to the whole World and has inflected over 80 million or 8 crore people and caused more than 1.76 million or 17.6 lakh deaths.
Additionally, the global pandemic has also hit businesses, sectors and economies as a while, especially, paralysing the Air travel as countries placed travel restrictions between themselves.
In Shanghai, the police enforced tight security outside the court where the trial had opened around 7 months after Zhang was detained, however, some supporters were undeterred.
A man in the wheelchair was cited by international news Reuters to have come to demonstrate support to Zhang, as a fellow Christian, all the way from the central province of Henan.
The man had written her name on a poster before police arrived to escort him away.
The court’s official security members said that the journalists who arrived from overseas were denied entry in the court owing to the “epidemic”.
A former lawyer and Zhang arrived in Wuhan on the 1st of February from her home in Shanghai.
Her short video clips, which were uploaded to YouTube, consisted of interviews with the residents along with commentary and footage of a crematorium, hospital, train stations, and also the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
After she was detained in mid-May, she went on a hunger strike which started in late-June, as per the court docuemnts which were cited by Reuters.
Her lawyers told the court that “police strapped her hands and force-fed her with a tube. By December, she was suffering headaches, giddiness, stomach ache, low blood pressure and a throat infection,” as cited by the international news agency.
Her lawyer said that the requests made to release Zhang on bail before the trail and on the live stream of the trail were ignored.
There are other citizen-journalists including Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, and Li Zehua who disappeared without any explanation.
While Li re-emerged via a video uploaded on YouTube back in April saying he was forced into quarantined, and Chen, although released, has been under surveillance and has not spoken with the public, there is Fang who still remain missing.