China sentences citizen journalist for four years over Wuhan reports

Police attempt to stop journalists from recording footage outside the Shanghai Pudong New District People’s Court, where Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan(inset) was on trial Image: Image Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images

DHARAMSALA, 28 Dec: A Chinese high court in Shanghai has sentenced a Chinese citizen journalist to four years in jail.

Zhang Zhan, a Chinese lawyer and citizen journalist who was arrested in May while reporting from Wuhan for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a wage charge commonly used by Beijing to silence journalists, activists and lawyers -was given the four years sentence by Shanghai Pudong New District People’s Court on Monday morning.

The 37-year-old Chinese citizen journalist’s live reports and essays widely circulated on social media platforms in February, that ultimately led to her arrest by the authorities.

The authorities charged her with disseminating false information last week while the charge sheet against her in the court that was made public last week alleges that Zhang had sent “false information through text, video and other media through the internet media such as WeChat, Twitter and YouTube” reports the Guardian.

“She also accepted interviews from overseas media Free Radio Asia and Epoch Times and maliciously speculated on Wuhan’s Covid-19 epidemic,” it added and recommended sentence of four to five years for her.

She became is the eighth coronavirus whistleblowers to have earned Beijing’s wrath so far for criticising China’s response to the outbreak.

The report quoted Zhang Keke, her lawyer as saying that Zhang appeared at the brief hearing in a wheelchair and that that the harsh sentence broke down her mother.

Zhang’s health became a cause of concern after she began a hunger strike in June following which she is being force-fed via a nasal tube.

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