China: Journalist Faces Five Years in Jail for Reporting COVID-19 Outbreak from Wuhan

The Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan will face up to five years in prison for reporting on the outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan under the accusation of “provoking altercations and creating problems”, collects the organization Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

CHRD reported via Twitter that a Shanghai city court will try Zhang over information posted on social media about the spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan at the beginning of this year.

According to the NGO, the journalist faces a sentence of between four and five years in prison.

Zhang, 37, was arrested six months ago for “stirring up altercations and creating trouble,” a charge that is frequently used against critics and activists in China.

CHRD reported in September that the woman had been arrested in May for posting on social networks such as Wechat, Twitter or YouTube that citizens of Wuhan They received rotten food during the 11-week confinement that the city lived or that they were forced to pay fees to be tested for the coronavirus.

Zhang also reported on the arrests of other journalists or the harassment received by relatives of victims of the pandemic who demanded responsibility from the authorities for their management in the early stages of the outbreak.

Other citizens who also narrated the news of Wuhan disappeared or were arrested this year, such as businessman Fan Bing, lawyer Chen Qiushi or young reporter Li Zehua, although the latter was released in April.

In Wuhan, the local authorities were slow to release some of the information available on the outbreak, because, according to the then mayor, Zhou Xianwang, they needed the approval of higher authorities to do so.

During the harshest months of the pandemic, attempts were also made to contain the flow of information through traditional media and social networks, according to Wu Qiang, a political analyst quoted by the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.

EFE

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