An independent Chinese journalist who reported on Wuhan – the epicenter of the COVIVD-19 outbreak – has been sentenced to four years in jail.
The journalist – 37-year-old Zhang Zhan, – was convicted on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – an offense commonly weaponzied by the Chinese government against dissidents and human rights activists.
For over three months, Zhang traveled nearly 400 miles from Shanghai to the city of Wuhan at the onset of the outbreak with the intent to report on the pandemic and attempts to contain it. For over three months, she documented the brutality of Wuhan’s lockdown including overflowing hospitals to empty shops. She posted her reports on Wechat, Twitter and YouTube – the latter two of which are censored in China.
Her reporting, however, was at odds with Chinese Communist Party-pushed narratives on the outbreak, which leaked documents reveal a massive, orchestrated campaign to spread disinformation regarding the virus.
Her indictment reveals that prosecutors accused her of “publishing large amounts of fake information” and receiving interviews from Western media outlets such as The Epoch Times to “maliciously stir up the Wuhan Covid-19 epidemic situation.”
Zhang’s lawyers continue to insist that prosecutors did not present any concrete evidence of the “fake information” Zhang purportedly spread at any point during the trial.