China Jails Citizen Journalist for ‘Provoking Trouble’ With Wuhan Reporting

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Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old citizen journalist in China, has been sentenced to four years in jail after criticizing the Chinese government’s response to COVID-19 in Wuhan. Zhang was a lawyer in Shanghai before she traveled to Wuhan in Februrary to cover how the city was handling the outbreak of the pandemic.

NBC News reports:

“Some of her posts were critical of the Chinese government’s response. Zhang was detained in May and accused of spreading false information, giving interviews to foreign media, disrupting social order and attacking the government. On Monday, she was convicted on charges of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble,’ Zhang’s lawyer, Zhang Keke, who is not related to the citizen journalist, told NBC News on Monday. Zhang did not speak or show any reaction to the court decision, her lawyer said, adding that she did not answer when asked if she wanted to appeal her sentence.”

Earlier this month, Amnesty International reported that Zhang was on a hunger strike and being force-fed. The report continued: “She is also being shackled and her hands have been bound 24 hours a day for more than three months, and there is grave fear for her health and well-being and risk of further torture and other ill-treatment.”

The human rights office of the United Nations tweeted that they are “deeply concerned” about what is happening and called for her release:

That this news is not surprising does not make it less horrifying. Earlier this month, the New York Times covered the extraordinary efforts that the Chinese Communist Party deployed to censor social media and journalism as the outbreak spread out of control.

We should read stories like this and be wary of the costs of doing major commerce in China, and we should also be thankful that we don’t live in a country where criticizing the actions of government can lead to several years in jail and potential torture.


Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. Remember JW’s series on educating athletes about BLM? That was good and all, but I think it would be more effective to get the message out to those same athletes about the absolute atrocities that are happening in China, including this story. How about over half a million Uighurs PICKING COTTON in China? Not ‘on-the-nose’ enough for the LeBron’s of the world to finally speak out?

  2. Cryin’, really?! You are using the New York Times as a source for illuminating the free speech issue in China? The New York fucking Times? The NYT is not in the first amendment business and it’s been that way (openly) for a long time. Are you even paying attention in the slightest? This is YOUR livelihood. Do you even understand where YOU work? Figure it the fuck out or just move on to a PR hack gig someplace.

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