01/09/2021, 08.00
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Journalist Zhang Jialong in prison for supporting Hong Kong activists

Nothing was known about his fate since his arrest in August 2019. Convicted of “provoking trouble” and defaming the Chinese Communist Party, he was given an 18-month sentence. He will be released on 11 February. He is known for his interviews with Ai Weiwei and support for dissidents Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong. China leads the world in jailing journalists.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Dissident journalist Zhang Jialong is serving an 18-month prison sentence for supporting anti-government protests in Hong Kong, which he started to do in 2014.

The Higher People’s Court of southwestern Guizhou Province made the announcement yesterday, but Zhang was first taken into custody by police at his home in Guiyang on 12 August 2019, his wife Shao Yuan told the Apple Daily.

The sentence was imposed last May when the court convicted him of “provoking trouble”, a charge that is often used in China to justify the arrest of journalists, human rights activists and lawyers.

According to the charges, he posted and reposted false and libellous messages that defamed the Chinese Communist Party.

Taking into account the time already spent behind bars, Zhang, who was a Tencent News business reporter before his arrest, should be released on 11 February.

Right after his disappearance, the US State Department called for his immediate release.

Zhang is best known for his interviews with well-known Chinese dissidents, such as artist Ai Weiwei and food safety activist Zhao Lianhai.

In 2014 he also met with then US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to China. During the meeting, he expressed support for political prisoners Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong, inviting the secretary to visit Liu’s wife, Xia.

Zhang’s treatment is not unusual. In 2020, China topped the world for jailed journalists, this according to Reporters without Borders. Out of 387 journalists detained in the world, 117 are in China.

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