Her lawyer said that to protest her arrest and prosecution, Ms. Zhang has started a long-term hunger strike. In response, the authorities forced her to feed through a feeding tube and restrained her hand, preventing her from pulling it out.
Ms. Zhang testified in court in a wheelchair. One of her lawyers, Zhang Keke, wrote on the SMS app WeChat on Monday. Mr. Zhang wrote in a post a few days ago that she had lost a lot of weight, and it was almost unrecognizable even a few weeks ago.
Mr. Zhang, who has nothing to do with Ms. Zhang, wrote that Ms. Zhang barely spoke at the hearing, but said that the people’s speech should not be censored.
After the sentence was pronounced, Ren Quanniu, another lawyer of Ms. Zhang, said that Ms. Zhang’s mother was escorted to the court by security personnel for trial, and then sobbed out of control.
Few people are allowed to enter, because sensitive hearings in China are usually conducted in secret. Before the trial, Ms. Zhang’s reporters and supporters gathered near the court building but were pushed away by security officials. A friend of Ms. Zhang’s Li Dawei said that he and 10 other people who tried to attend the hearing were taken to a nearby police station.
Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Jiangang said that the length of Ms. Zhang’s sentence shows that the government believes that retaining the narrative of the outbreak is the basis for maintaining governance.