Citizen journalist Zhang Zhang, who covered the Wuhan epidemic on social media in February, was sentenced to four years in prison after a trial that lasted several hours, AFP reported, citing her lawyers. Foreign diplomats and supporters of Zhang tried to enter the court in Shanghai, where the trial was taking place, but the police did not allow them or the journalists.
The People’s Court in Pudong found the 37-year-old former lawyer from Shanghai guilty of causing panic and confusion, often used against critics of the government, DPA reported.
The court accused Zhang of spreading false information during the quarantine in Wuhan. In the materials she published online, she criticized the restrictions imposed by the authorities because of the epidemic, describing them as a “grave violation of human rights.”
In videos filmed at the scene, repeatedly shared on social media, Zhang showed overcrowded crematoria and hospitals in the 11 million-strong Wuhan in February.
The trial against Zhang is the first against a citizen journalist in China, but will probably not be the last, the DPA added, recalling that its colleagues Li Jiehua, Fan Bin and Chen Qiushi have also been missing since February.