A Shanghai court has sentenced a Chinese citizen journalist to four years imprisonment for reporting on the Covid-19 from Wuhan, where the deadly virus originated.
The court sentenced Zhang Zhan for allegedly “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” through her reporting during the initial stages of the outbreak, a report stated.
According to lawyers representing her, although the prosecution accused Zhang Zhan of spreading “false remarks” online, it did not disclose the complete evidence against her in court.
The journalist, who is a former lawyer, reportedly refused to respond to question asked in the court and did not answer when the judge asked her to confirm her identity.
“We had no way of understanding what exactly Zhang Zhan was accused of doing,” her lawyer said.
Chinese authorities came upon her live reports and essays that were shared on social media platforms in February.
Zhang in a report had written that the Chinese government did not give the public sufficient information on the new outbreak and simply locked down cities, which was a violation of human rights.
Apart from Zhang, the authorities have detained three more citizen journalists for reporting from Wuhan and they are to face trial soon.
The 37-year-old journalist had begun a hunger strike in June and had to be force-fed.
This has taken a toll on her health as she suffered from headaches, dizziness and stomach pain.
“Zhang has adopted an extreme method of protesting against this society and environment,” said a lawyer representing the journalist.
The sentencing comes just weeks before a World Health Organization team is expected to arrive in China to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus.
Although several human rights groups and embassies have drawn attention to her case, Chinese authorities denied requests of diplomats from several countries to monitor the hearing.
The British embassy in Beijing also urged Chinese authorities to release all journalists detained for their reporting on Covid-19.