A Chinese court on Monday jailed Zhang Zhan for four years for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” while reporting the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, reports Reuters. Zhang, 37, a citizen-journalist, gave firsthand accounts from crowded hospitals and empty streets, revealing the dire impacts of the pandemic.
- Ms. Zhang believes she is being prosecuted for exercising her freedom of speech.
- Zhang’s defense suggested appealing against the ruling made in a court in Pudong district, Shanghai’s business hub.
- Critics say that China deliberately arranged for Zhang’s trial to minimize Western attention and scrutiny during the Western holiday season.
- Foreign journalists were denied entry to the court “due to the epidemic.”
- Criticism of China’s early handling of the crisis has been censored, and whistle-blowers, including doctors, warned
- The United Nations human rights office, called in a tweet for Zhang’s release.
- Requests to the court to release Zhang on bail before and during the trial were ignored
Since the outbreak, the coronavirus has spread globally, infecting more than 80 million people and killing more than 1.76 million.