China jails journalist, Zhang Zhan for COVID-19 reporting

A Chinese court has convicted Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist who reported the early days of COVID-19.

On Monday, Shanghai Pudong New District People’s Court sentenced her to four years in prison.

The charge was “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Critics call it a punishment and warning to vocal nationals opposing government’s narrative of the pandemic.

Zhan, 37, becomes the first person to face trial for making revelations about coronavirus in China.

In February, the former lawyer traveled to Wuhan, origin of the outbreak. She shared videos of crowded hospitals and disturbed residents.

Zhang repeatedly denounced the Chinese government for its pronouncements, and for going after individuals that queried its actions.

“The government’s way of managing this city has just been intimidation and threats. This is truly the tragedy of this country”, she said in a video.

In May, after the comment, Zhang’s friends learned that she had been arrested and taken to Shanghai. Authorities accused her of false information.

As Zhang embarked on a hunger strike, she was force-fed through a feeding tube and her hands restrained.

United Nations Human Rights has expressed concern over the judgement.

“We raised her case with the authorities throughout 2020 as an example of the excessive clampdown on freedom of expression linked to #COVID-19 & continue to call for her release”, it tweeted.

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