Journalist who reported on coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China jailed for 4 years

Zhang Zhan (Photo: Financial Times)

Zhang Zhan, an independent Chinese journalist who documented the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, has been imprisoned for four years.

According to one of her defense lawyers, she was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

CNN reports that Zhan, who is also a former lawyer, travelled from Shanghai to Wuhan in early February to report on the pandemic and attempts to contain it. 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 on WeChat, Twitter, and YouTube. But in mid-May, her posts stop. It was later revealed that she was detained by police and brought back to Shanghai.

According to Amnesty International, Zhan endured grave mistreatment while in detention. And her lawyer said she attended Monday’s hearing in a wheelchair, as she had become frail during her time in detention.

Zhang is the first citizen journalist known to have been sentenced for her role in reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.