A Chinese court on Monday sentenced citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan, to four years in prison for her live stream reporting of COVID-19 breakout from Wuhan.
Zhang Zhan, 37, was sentenced on grounds of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, her lawyer said.
Zhan had uploaded YouTube videos of interviews with residents, commentary and footage of a crematorium, train stations, crowded hospitals, empty streets and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Zhang did not speak or show any reaction to the court decision, her lawyer said, adding that she did not answer when asked if she wanted to appeal her sentence.
Before the sentencing hearing, Zhang said his client went “on long-term hunger strike” in detention and was being force-fed.
He said Zhang suffered from dizziness and headaches, and was “physically fragile.”
“When I met her days ago, her hands were tied to the waist and a nasogastric tube was inserted in her nose,” he said, adding that his client has not pleaded guilty.
“She has a strong will,” Zhang said.
Over the months, China has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak and delaying its response, allowing the virus to spread globally, a claim Beijing denied, saying it acted swiftly to stop the virus, which has now claimed nearly 1.8 million lives around the world.