Search icon


28th Dec 2020

China imprisons Wuhan journalist who reported first coronavirus outbreak

Zhang Zhan will spend four years in a Chinese jail for reporting on the pandemic

Oli Dugmore

wuhan journalist

Zhang Zhan will spend four years in a Chinese jail, her crime is reporting on Wuhan’s coronavirus outbreak

Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan has been found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and will serve four years in prison.

Her only crime is reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan.

37-year-old Zhang is the first person known to have been tried for revealing the bleak picture in the central Chinese city – contradicting the country’s official narrative about the impact of the pandemic.

She has been on hunger strike since June and is reportedly being fed through a nasal tube. It’s understood Zhang has also been tortured during her detention, with her legs shackled and hands bound 24 hours a day for three months.

China does not have a free press and has punitively clamped down on any who are deemed to have undermined the state and its response.

Ren Quanniu, one of her lawyers, told news agency AFP: “Zhang Zhan looked devastated when the sentence was announced.”

“We will probably appeal.”

A spokesperson for Amnesty International said: “There are grave fears for Zhang Zhan’s health. She is being forcibly fed by officials since starting a hunger strike in June. She has also been tortured in detention, with her legs shackled and her hands bound 24 hours a day for more than three months.

“Unless China can produce sufficient credible and admissible evidence that Zhang Zhan has committed an internationally recognised offence, she should be released.”

“Citizen journalists like Zhang Zhan were the primary, if not only, source of uncensored first-hand information during the early days of COVID-19. China must stop persecuting journalists and other individuals merely for reporting the truth.”

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge