Liberal voices in China fall silent after coronavirus

Liberal voices in China fall silent after coronavirus

A year after China’s coronavirus outbreak, defiant 37-year-old citizen journalist Zhang Zhan is paying the price for speaking up in her on-the-ground reporting from the central Chinese city of Wuhan in the early days of the disease.

Zhang was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the last week of December for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a catch-all charge often used by authorities to stifle dissent. She was arrested and accused of “fabricating malicious and false information” after she travelled to Wuhan and reported on what she found there.

For six months, Zhang had refused to plead guilty, beginning a hunger strike soon after her arrest, which continued right up to her brief trial. She attended court in a wheelchair, according to her lawyer Zhang Keke (no relation) and did not say immediately if she would appeal.