Zhang Zhan, a journalist from Shanghai in China, was sentenced on Monday (28) to four years in prison for her investigative reporting in the city of Wuhan at the beginning of the covid-19 outbreak. The accusation was that of “causing disturbances”, when she posted on social media images of the chaotic situation of hospitals in the region that was the epicenter of the world pandemic.
When denouncing the official version of the Chinese government, which has always insisted on the success of its handling of the crisis that paralyzed the planet in one year, the journalist was arrested in May, and the following month decided to start a hunger strike in protest against her detention but was forcibly fed by a probe.
The reporter’s defense says Zhan is being silenced by the Chinese government, but officials say the reporter was responsible for “spreading misinformation” about the authorities’ conduct during the work of containing the virus.
To foreign journalists present at the court, but barred from entering the courtroom, lawyer Ren Quanniu said that Zhang Zhan “looked very dejected when the sentence was announced”. According to the professional, her client expressed a lot of concern, even believing that she could die in prison.
The beginning of the pandemic
According to official figures released by the Chinese government, of the 11 million inhabitants of Wuhan, 4,000 died due to covid-19, that is, the majority of deaths registered in the country between January and May. However, Beijing only decreed the quarantine in the metropolis and its region on January 23, although the virus was detected in early December 2019.
When local doctors warned of the emergence of a mysterious virus, they were detained by the police, interrogated and accused of “spreading rumors”. The Doctor. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at the city’s central hospital and the first person to issue a pandemic alert, died of the disease on February 7.