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Lives at risk for reporting outbreak in Wuhan: Journalists detained or missing in China

 DR PHOTO - LIVES AT RISK FOR REPORTING OUTBREAK IN WUHAN: JOURNALISTS DETAINED OR MISSING IN CHINAAn independent Chinese journalist who reported the initial outbreak of the new Coronavirus in Wuhan, central China, was sentenced Monday to four years in prison by a Shanghai court, according to a Hong Kong newspaper.

Zhang Zhan traveled to Wuhan last February to report on the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent disease prevention and treatment campaign for patients, but disappeared in May and was later revealed to have been detained by police in Shanghai. in eastern China.

Zhang Zhan was convicted of “causing trouble” and “looking for trouble”, a frequent accusation against journalists and human rights activists in China, according to the “Apple Daily” newspaper, which quoted one of the lawyers.

The journalist refused to admit the accusations, considering that the information published by her on Chinese platforms such as WeChat or on social networks Twitter and YouTube should not have been censored.

According to Amnesty International (AI), her work in Wuhan focused on reporting the arrests of other independent reporters and harassing family members of victims of the new Coronavirus.

The Human Rights Defenders in China organization revealed last September that the journalist had been arrested for reporting that the citizens of Wuhan had received rotten food during the city’s 11 weeks of confinement, or that they had been forced to pay to conduct Coronavirus testing.

Zhang Zhan, who was arrested in late May, started a hunger strike in September, which left her in a “very weak” physical condition, according to her defense, who said the authorities had forcibly fed her, using a tube.

Another lawyer revealed the 37-year-old reporter’s intention to continue her hunger strike “even if she dies in prison”.

Several other independent journalists who travelled to Wuhan at the start of the outbreak were detained or disappeared in China, while authorities restricted coverage and the official press hailed Beijing’s response as effective and timely.

In February, Chen Qiushi, who broadcast live videos of Wuhan during the city blockade and broadcast reports on social media, also disappeared. Two other independent journalists – Li Zehua and Fang Bin – were also arrested after covering the outbreak in Wuhan.

However, Zhang Zhan was the first journalist to be formally punished with a prison sentence.

iginal article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/