A Chinese court on Monday handed a four-year jail term to a citizen journalist who reported from the central city of Wuhan at the peak of last year’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Zhang Zhan was found guilty on grounds of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, a frequent charge against activists, her lawyer Ren Quanniu said.
Ms Zhan, whose live reports and essays were widely shared on social media platforms in February, grabbed the attention of authorities, who have punished eight citizen-journalists so far for reporting on Wuhan.
She was detained in May, and has been on hunger strike for several months. Her lawyers said she is in poor health.
“We will probably appeal,” one of her defence lawyer, Ren Quanniu, said adding that the trial at a court in Pudong, a district of China’s business hub of Shanghai, ended with Zhang being sentenced to four years.
“There is no free media in China and authorities are known to clamp down on activists or whistleblowers seen as undermining the government’s response to the outbreak” he added.
A research and advocacy consultant, Leo Lan said Ms Zhang’s latest sentencing was ‘alarming’
Several citizens journalists according to reports went missing earlier this year after reporting from Wuhan.