Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer and citizen journalist, was arrested in Wuhan in May this year when he reported the case and has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Ms. Zhang was arrested for “arguing and provocation”, a common accusation against dissidents, activists and journalists. Her video and blog reports are from Wuhan lockdown. Last month, she was charged with spreading false information.
On Monday afternoon, only a few hours after the trial began, Zhang’s lawyer said she had been sentenced to four years in prison.
The indictment document stated that the indictment released last week stated that Zhang had “sent false information through Internet media such as WeChat, Twitter and YouTube through text, video and other media”.
It said: “She also accepted interviews from overseas media Radio Free Asia and Epoch Times, and maliciously guessed about the Covid-19 epidemic in Wuhan.” Suggested a sentence of four to five years in prison.
Her lawyer Zhang Keke said earlier this month that she was restrained 24 hours a day and was forcibly put on a tube after a hunger strike. Zhang Keke visited again on Christmas Day and said in a blog post that his client lost 15 to 20 kilograms and his hair was cut short.
“She feels mentally exhausted, like every day is a torture.”
On Monday morning, about a dozen supporters and diplomats gathered outside the People’s Court of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, but when Zhang and her lawyer arrived, the police drove the reporters and observers out of the entrance.
Zhang, one of several citizen journalists detained in Wuhan at about the same time, denied the accusation and said all her reports came from first-hand information with local people. Citizen reporter Fang Bin was arrested in February, but the place of detention remains secret. In April of this year, Chen Mei and Cai Wei were awaiting trial in Beijing after being arrested for filing censorship information about the virus.
Chen Qiushi, who was detained in Wuhan in February, was released to his parents’ home under close surveillance.
The families of 10 Hong Kongers detained after allegedly trying to reach Taiwan said they were only informed of the trial on Friday, so they did not have time to travel to Shenzhen and complete the quarantine in time. The families said that the trial was not broadcast live, and the media seemed unable to enter the courtroom, turning it into a “de facto secret trial.”
In a statement on Monday, they said: “Through the secret trial of these twelve people and prohibiting the participation of the media and their families, the Chinese authorities have ignored basic human rights and violated the principle of’sunshine justice’ that they have been advocating.
Radio Hong Kong reported from Shenzhen that court officials said that the trial has been opened to the public but all seats have been reserved.
Before the trial, the US State Department called for the organization’s release. An official said that their only “so-called crime” was “escape tyranny.”
The Yantian District People’s Court of Shenzhen announced last week that ten of the twelve people who allegedly went to Taiwan by boat when intercepted by the Guangdong Coast Guard in August were charged with organizing or participating in illegal border crossings. The remaining two are minors and will try at a later date. Since their arrest, the detainees have been almost completely barred from contact with their families and barred from seeing the lawyer of their choice.
The last-minute trial took place during a series of actions by the authorities against dissidents, lawyers and journalists. The Chinese authorities have a history of using holidays. Many Western governments and NGOs take holidays during the Christmas holiday to conduct trials and arrests.
Other reports from agents.