“Citizens Speech Should Not Be Censored” -Zhang Zhan
December 28, 2020 | By CNN | Source
“An independent Chinese journalist who reported from Wuhan at the height of the initial coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for four years by a Shanghai court, her lawyer said Monday.
Zhang Zhan, 37, was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to one of her defense lawyers Zhang Keke, who attended her hearing. The offense is commonly used by the Chinese government to target dissidents and human rights activists.
A former lawyer, Zhang traveled some 400 miles from Shanghai to Wuhan in early February to report on the pandemic and subsequent attempts to contain it, just as the authorities began reining in state-run and private Chinese media.
For more than three months, she documented snippets of life under lockdown in Wuhan and the harsh reality faced by its residents, from overflowing hospitals to empty shops. She posted her observations, photos and videos on Wechat, Twitter and YouTube — the latter two of which are blocked in China.
Her postings came to an abrupt stop in mid-May, and she was later revealed to have been detained by police and brought back to Shanghai. According to Amnesty International, at one point during her detention Zhang went on hunger strike, during which time she was shackled and force fed, treatment the group said amounted to torture.
Her lawyer Zhang Keke, who visited Zhang earlier this month while she was in detention, described on social media that Zhang had a feeding tube attached to her nose and mouth. He said her hands were tied to prevent her from removing the device, and that she suffered from constant headache and pain in her stomach and throat.
CNN did not immediately receive a response from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on allegations of Zhang’s mistreatment in detention.
Zhang’s lawyer said she attended Monday’s hearing in a wheelchair, as she had become frail during her time in detention.”