Chinese citizen journalist to face trial after Wuhan virus reporting

19 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

BEIJING: A citizen journalist detained in China after reporting from the Covid-19 ground zero of Wuhan will face trial later this month, her lawyer said Friday, as fears grow for her health.

The coronavirus first emerged in central China late last year, and Beijing has faced accusations that it covered up the initial outbreak and silenced early whistleblowers.

Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer, travelled to Wuhan in February and livestreamed her experiences on social media. She also wrote essays critical of the government's response -- including the strict lockdown of millions of people, reports AFP.

Zhang was detained in May and is accused of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", according to a court notice seen by AFP -- a charge routinely used to suppress dissidents, with a maximum prison sentence of five years.

The 37-year-old's lawyers received notice earlier this week that the hearing will take place in a Shanghai court on December 28.

Zhang began a hunger strike in June, her lawyers said, and has been force-fed via a nasal tube.