China sentenced citizen journalist for ‘causing unrest’

37-year-old citizen journalist Zhang Zhan has been sentenced to four years in prison in China, reports her lawyer on Monday. She reported at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the virus first appeared. The activist has been on hunger strike since May.

According to the judge, Zhang is guilty of “fighting and causing unrest”, a charge that is often used in China against activists, dissidents and journalists.

Zhang, a former lawyer, went to Wuhan at the beginning of the outbreak to report on the then unknown virus. She shared a lot of live footage through social media, which were watched a lot there. She was arrested in May.

In her coverage, Zhang was critical of the Chinese government’s censorship and secrecy surrounding the outbreak of the then mysterious virus.

Zhang wants to go on hunger strike

Once arrested, Zhang went on a hunger strike, but was administered by a nasal probe. According to her lawyer, she wants to maintain the hunger strike “to the bitter end”.

Zhang’s lawyers say her health is deteriorating rapidly.

“She feels mentally exhausted. Every day is a torture for her. She even needs help going to the bathroom.”

More citizen journalists detained

Zhang said in her coverage that China violated the basic rights of its people. She also calls for the release of other citizen journalists who have been arrested after reporting about the outbreak, writes The Guardian.

At least six other citizen journalists, who reported in Wuhan, are still in prison awaiting a ruling. Fang Bin, arrested in February, was detained in a secret location. Among other things, he shared video footage of a hospital where many people died during the outbreak.

Two other citizens, Chen Mei and Cai Wei, are trapped in Beijing after they’ve been storing censored information. ‘Chen Qiushi’, who also reported from Wuhan, is under house arrest with his parents.

Hong-Kongers prosecuted for flight to Taiwan

Monday also begins the persecution of ten Hong Kong citizens on mainland China, writes The Guardian. The citizens are trapped because they would have tried to flee to Taiwan. Two other minors will be prosecuted later.

According to the lawyers, the family was informed of the case at the very last minute and it is not possible to attend the prosecution due to quarantine rules. Media should not be present either.

Demonstrations have been taking place in Hong Kong for months. The protests started because of a security law that allows the detention and prosecution of prisoners on the mainland in China.

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