Chinese journalist faces jail for COVID-19 virus outbreak reporting
Beijing: A Chinese journalist, who was detained in May for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan, is currently facing up to five years in jail after being formally indicted on charges of spreading false information, media reports said on Monday.
The journalist is identified as 37-year-old Zhang Zhan.
She is a former lawyer.
She was arrested six months ago for reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak which is believed to have originated from China.
She is being held in a detention facility in Shanghai, reports The Guardian.
According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), an NGO working towards human rights in China the journalist is being held at Pudong New District Detention Center in Shanghai.
"Zhang Zhan had travelled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, in early February. She reported numerous stories including the detentions of other independent reporters and harassment of families of victims seeking accountability from the epicenter via her WeChat, Twitter and YouTube accounts," the NGO said in a statement.
A former lawyer, Zhang Zhan, born in the 1980s, has long been active in speaking out about politics and the human rights situation in China.
She has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by the authorities. In 2019, she spoke out on the Hong Kong protests by posting comments, writing articles and holding up placards to support the protesters, read the NGO website.
In September 2019, she was summoned by Shanghai police and was later criminally detained and arrested on suspicion of “picking quarrels” for her support for Hong Kong. Police released her on November 26, 2019. During her detention, she was reportedly forced to undergo psychiatric examination twice, the website read.