China’s Journalist arrested for covering the turmoil of the pandemic is on the verge of death

A citizen journalist imprisoned in Wuhan for covering China’s early response to Covid is on the verge of death, according to her family, prompting renewed appeals from rights groups for her immediate release.

In February 2020, Zhang Zhan, a 38-year-old former lawyer, traveled to Wuhan to report on the turmoil at the pandemic’s epicenter, questioning authorities’ handling of the outbreak in her smartphone recordings.

She was arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to four years in prison in December for “picking fights and causing problems,” a charge that is frequently used to repress dissent.

Her brother Zhang Ju said last week on a Twitter account verified by persons close to the situation that she is now severely underweight and “may not live for much longer.”

Meanwhile, official media announced on Friday that a former influential vice-minister of public security who was dispatched to Wuhan, the first epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, has been jailed on suspicions of receiving bribes.

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