COVID 19 coverage: China releases journalist arrested since 2020


Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who had been serving a four-year sentence for reporting on the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in locked-down Wuhan, has been released from prison.

This is according to the supporters.

The former lawyer had been sentenced to four years in prison for critical reports on the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

She had posted videos, live streams and essays about what she saw there.

On Tuesday night, supporters published a video of the journalist and former lawyer on the social media platform X, in which she said the police, took her to her brother’s flat in Shanghai.

The organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF) also posted the video, in which Zhang said she was released on May 13, and sent to her brother’s home.

“Although Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan was able to share a video today confirming her release from prison after four years, we’re worried about her situation under strict surveillance,’’ RSF said in the post.

“Our call for her full and unconditional release remains urgent.’’

Zhan was among the few independent voices to cover the COVID-19 outbreak in China in 2020

According to the statement, after her arrest in May 2020, Zhang went on a hunger strike, causing her to be force-fed at times.

Her weight reportedly dropped to 40 kilograms.

RSF and human rights activists from Amnesty International repeatedly called for her release and for international pressure on the Chinese government.

After the then-unknown virus spread across Wuhan at the end of 2019, a lockdown was imposed on the metropolis of 11 million people at the end of January 2020.

Officially, China has only reported about 120,000 deaths caused by the virus to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, various international estimated the death toll in China at around one million.

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