A civilian journalist covering the Kovid-19 epidemic in Wuhan was sentenced to four years in prison today, while the Chinese government emphasizes the success of its administration to combat a worldwide disease.
Zhang Zhan “looked very disappointed when the sentence was announced,” one of his attorneys Ren Quanyu told AFP, which expressed “great concern” about the client’s psychological state.
Foreign journalists and diplomats who were produced in a Shanghai court where a 37-year-old former lawyer was tried were barred from entering the court room.
Some of Zan’s supporters were removed by security forces.
Zhang Zhan may face up to five years in prison.
Born in Shanghai, she traveled to Wuhan in February, the epicenter of the epidemic at the time, and released the report Social network, Most of them on a chaotic situation in hospitals.
According to the official balance, the metropolis of 11 million inhabitants recorded nearly 4 thousand deaths by Kovid-19, that is to say, the majority of the 4,634 deaths counted in all China between January and May.
China’s initial response to the epidemic has been widely criticized. Despite detecting cases since the beginning of December 2019, Beijing decided to quarantine Wuhan and its territory only on 23 January.
About a year ago, on December 31, 2019, the WHO (World Health Organization) was reported as the first case.
At the same time, however, doctors noted the emergence of a mysterious virus and were accused of “spreading rumors” by the police.
One of them, Doctor Li Wenliang, fell victim to Kovid-19 in early February, causing outrage on social media.
Zhang was arrested in May and charged with “causing disturbances”, a term often used against opponents of President Xi Jinping’s regime.
The court accused him of spreading false information on the Internet, another defense lawyer, Zhang Keke, told AFP.
Lawyers said Zhang began a hunger strike in June to protest her arrest, but was forcibly fed by an investigation.
“When I saw her last week, she said, ‘If I get any heavy punishment, I will refuse any food till the end. She is confident that she will die in prison.”
In texts posted on the Internet, Zhang condemned the imprisonment imposed on Wuhan and referred to “serious violations of human rights”.
Three other civilian journalists, Chen Queshi, Phang Bin and Li Zhua, were also detained following coverage of the incidents. The AFP was unable to contact its lawyers.
Zhang’s process occurred just before the arrival of a World Health Organization (WHO) mission in China in January to investigate the genesis of the epidemic.
Chinese Communist Party (PCC) leaders praised after a political cabinet meeting, which they called an “extremely extraordinary” success in fighting the epidemic, state agency Xinhua reported on Friday.
The Chinese government often condemns opponents during the holiday season, when attention is diverted from the rest of the world.
Former Hong Kong activists were detained in August, trying to move from the former British colony to Taiwan, still to open in Shenzhen (South) today.