A 37-year-old journalist may face five years in prison in China for spreading ‘misinformation’ about the government’s response to the virus, The Guardian has reported.
Zhang Zhan, was arrested over six months ago for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble” and is currently detained in Shanghai.
Zhan is being detained in China along with numerous other journalists, all in government custody for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
China is indicting Zhan on several counts, including sending “false information through text, video and other media such as WeChat, Twitter and Youtube,” and “[accepting] interviews from overseas media Free Radio Asia and Epoch Times,” according to the official prosecution papers.
Zhan is also accused of “maliciously [speculating] on Wuhan’s Covid-19 epidemic,” likely referring to her vocalized skepticism of China’s official Covid-19 numbers.
Alongside these indictments, Zhan exposed various detentions of other journalists who were attempting to report on the coronavirus in Wuhan, according to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).
This is not Zhan’s first time being detained for “stirring up trouble,” according to the report.
In 2018 and 2019, Chinese authorities detained Zhan for openly supporting freedom-fighters in Hong Kong.
China’s justice system convicts 99% of detainees, raising an alarm for human rights activists.
Amnesty International’s 2019 report states that China continues its “systematic crackdown on dissent” and maintains a justice system “plagued by unfair trials and torture.”