- A former lawyer was detained after livestreaming videos from Wuhan, China, that were critical of the Chinese government, according to the South China Morning Post.
- Zhang Zhan had been blogging about life in Wuhan on social-media platforms like YouTube and Twitter since February.
- According to the report, the 37-year-old was accused by authorities of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and was arrested Friday.
- According to the Morning Post, Zhang is the fourth citizen journalist known to have gone missing after reporting on activities in Wuhan.
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A former lawyer was detained after livestreaming videos from Wuhan, China, that were critical of the Chinese government, according to the South China Morning Post.
Zhang Zhan’s friends told the Morning Post that her family had received confirmation on Friday that she was being held at a detention center in Shanghai. According to the report, the 37-year-old was accused by authorities of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Zhang had been blogging about her daily life on social-media platforms like YouTube and Twitter, which are banned in China. Her latest video, posted Wednesday, criticized Chinese authorities’ attempts to contain the novel coronavirus.
According to the Morning Post, Zhang had been living in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus had first emerged, since February 1. Zhang was in Wuhan while it was placed under lockdown for nearly three months as the number of cases in mainland China spiked.
Zhang went missing Thursday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, citing local reports. If convicted of a crime, she could face up to five years in prison, the organization said.
According to the Morning Post, Zhang is the fourth citizen journalist known to have gone missing after reporting on activities in Wuhan.
A human-rights lawyer named Chen Qiushi went missing in February after he traveled to Wuhan in January to record the situation. Friends and family of the 34-year-old said he was forcibly quarantined by the police, and he has not been seen since.
Li Zehua, 25, was detained in Wuhan on February 26 and livestreamed his encounter with the police. He reappeared online in late April — nearly two months after the incident — and said he had spent two weeks “quarantined” in Wuhan as well as his hometown.
The police arrested another person, Fang Bin, in Wuhan on February 10. In one of his videos, he accused the government of a cover-up. His most recent video was posted to his YouTube channel on February 9, and he has not been seen since.
And last week, the Chinese human-rights lawyer Zhang Xuezhong was detained after posting a letter on WeChat criticizing the government’s response to COVID-19. In his letter, seen by the Morning Post, Zhang said the handling of the coronavirus pandemic was emblematic of deep-rooted issues within the country’s leadership. According to the Morning Post, he was released a day later.
China is known for censoring criticism of its policies, and dissenters have been jailed or disappeared after making complaints. A Wuhan doctor named Li Wenliang died of the novel coronavirus after being silenced by the local police for trying to warn his peers of the possibility of a viral outbreak. He died February 7.
Chinese government censors are working in overdrive to protect the party narrative regarding the new coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan before spreading worldwide.
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the Chinese government was silencing coronavirus survivors seeking answers on what went wrong with the country’s early coronavirus response.
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