December 29, 2020 | Updated
Yesterday, a Chinese court handed down a four-year jail term on Monday to a citizen-journalist who reported from the central city of Wuhan at the peak of last year’s COVID-19 outbreak, on grounds of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” her lawyer said.
Zhang Zhan, 37, the first such person known to have been tried, was among a handful of people whose first-hand accounts from crowded hospitals and empty streets painted a more dire picture of the pandemic epicenter than the official narrative.
“We will probably appeal,” the lawyer, Ren Quanniu, told Reuters, adding that the trial at a court in Pudong, a district of China’s business hub of Shanghai, ended at 12.30 p.m., with Ms. Zhang being sentenced to four years.
“Ms. Zhang believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech,” he had said before the trial.
Today, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the sentence and demanded the unconditional release Zhang Zhan.
In a letter addressed to the CCP, Pompeo said the prosecution of Zhan was a “sham.” Pompeo accused the communist regime of covering up the details of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan and said Chinese authorities “brutally silenced” truth-tellers like Zhang Zhan.