Activists confirm release of Chinese vlogger who reported on Covid-19

International |  IANS  | Published :

Beijing, May 22 (IANS/DPA) Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who had been serving a four-year sentence for reporting on the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic in locked-down Wuhan, has been released from prison, according to supporters.

The former lawyer had been sentenced to four years in prison for critical reports on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. She had posted videos, livestreams and essays about what she saw there.

On Tuesday night, supporters published a video of the journalist and former lawyer on the social media platform X, in which she said the police took her to her brother's flat in Shanghai.

The organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also posted the video, in which Zhang says she was released on May 13 and sent to her brother's home.

"Although Chinese journalist Zhang Zhan was able to share a video today confirming her release from prison after four years, we're worried about her situation under strict surveillance," RSF said in the post.

"Our call for her full and unconditional release remains urgent."

According to press reports, after her arrest in May 2020, Zhang went on a hunger strike, causing her to be force-fed at times. Her weight reportedly dropped to 40 kilograms.

RSF and human rights activists from Amnesty International repeatedly called for her release and international pressure on the Chinese government.

After the then-unknown virus spread across Wuhan at the end of 2019, a lockdown was imposed on the metropolis of 11 million people at the end of January 2020.

Officially, China has reported only about 1,20,000 deaths caused by the virus to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, various international estimates estimate the death toll in China at around 1 million.

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