A Chinese citizen journalist who covered the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan has been sentenced for four years jail allegedly for 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble', according to Reuters. 37-year-old Zhang Zhan was found guilty at a brief hearing in a Shanghai court on Monday.
According to her lawyer, the journalist believes she was targeted with such an offence for her reporting in the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak as China's early crisis management has been concealed.
"Ms Zhang believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech," Zhang's lawyer Ren Quanniu told Reuters before the trial.
She was one of the few citizen journalists in China to report her observations on the banned media in China such as YouTube and Twitter about the early experiences of people in Wuhan during the city's lockdown. She documented interviews with residents, commentary and footage of a crematorium, train stations, hospitals and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The other citizen-journalists including Fang Bin, Chen Qiushi and Li Zehua are said to have disappeared and is assumed to be in detainment or cautioned to stop their online reporting.
According to a report published in December by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), China has a reputation of topping the global ranking of journalists' imprisonment for two years in a row, and is reported to have jailed at least 47 this year.