Wuhan blogger Zhang Zhan sentenced to four years in prison
Guilty of creating "unrest", she recounted the pandemic emergency in Wuhan. Lawyer says his client suffered torture in prison. Many reporters targeted for talking about the health emergency. New cases of contagion registered: the authorities reintroduce restrictions for the holidays.
Shanghai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Pudong District Court today sentenced independent journalist Zhang Zhan to four years in prison. The 37-year-old blogger was found guilty of "creating riots". Arrested in May for reporting on the Covid-19 emergency in Wuhan (Hubei), the epicentre of the pandemic, the reporter attended the trial in a wheelchair. According to her lawyer, the poor health conditions are the result of torture in prison.
Zhang Zhan rejected all charges and went on a hunger strike in September. Her lawyer complains that she is forcibly fed by means of a gastric tube. To prevent her from ripping out her feeding tubes, the reporter told Zhang Keke that she was chained and tied to her bed, even up to 24 hours a day.
In his last YouTube live stream, posted on May 13, Zhang talked about the loss of jobs in Wuhan, the difficulties of local taxi drivers in the absence of customers, and the intimidation that the population suffered from the urban police (Chengguan).
In her posts, the blogger was frequently critical of the government for handling the health crisis. Investigators claim that Zhang spread false information on the coronavirus through web platforms such as WeChat, Twitter and YouTube, as well as having agreed to be interviewed on the subject by foreign media.
Zhang also told the stories of other independent journalists arrested in Wuhan. According to Reporters Without Borders and the New York Committee for the Protection of Journalists, China has imprisoned the most journalists worldwide this year. Researchers believe the worsening of the situation in China is due to the adoption of emergency laws against the pandemic that have further restricted press freedom.
Several foreign governments and many observers have questioned the transparency of the Chinese regime on the origin and development of the coronavirus. For months, local authorities have declared that they have defeated the pandemic, enhancing the country's economic recovery. In recent days, however, new cases of contagion have been registered in some provinces and in Beijing. Citizens were ordered not to move from their region during the New Year holidays and Lunar New Year next month. Restrictions on the use of public transport have also been introduced.