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Fourth Chinese journalist arrested for livestreaming in Wuhan: SCMP

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  • A former lawyer and citizen journalist was detained after live streaming videos from Wuhan, China, that were critical of the Chinese government, according to the South China Morning Post
  • Zhang Zhan had been blogging about life in Wuhan on social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter since February.
  • According to the report, the 37-year-old was accused by authorities of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and was arrested on May 15.
  • According to SCMP, Zhang is the fourth citizen journalist known to have gone missing after reporting on activities in Wuhan. 
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A former lawyer and citizen journalist was detained after live streaming videos from Wuhan, China, that were critical of the Chinese government, according to the South China Morning Post

Zhang Zhan’s friends told SCMP that her family had received confirmation on Friday that she was being held at a detention center in Shanghai. According to the report, the 37-year-old was accused by authorities of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” 

Zhang had been blogging about her daily life on social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter, which are banned in China. Her latest video, posted on May 13, criticized Chinese authorities’ attempts to contain the virus. 

According to SCMP, Zhang had been living in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus had first emerged, since February 1. Zhang was in Wuhan while it was placed under lockdown for nearly three months as the number of cases in mainland China spiked.

Zhang went missing on May 14, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, citing local reports. If convicted of a crime, she could face up to five years in prison, CPJ said. 

According to SCMP, Zhang is the fourth citizen journalist known to have gone missing after reporting on activities in Wuhan. 

A human rights lawyer and citizen journalist named Chen Qiushi went missing in February after he traveled to Wuhan in January to record the situation. Friends and family of the 34-year-old said he was forcibly quarantined by police and he has not been seen since.

Twenty-five-year-old citizen journalist Li Zehua was detained in Wuhan on February 26 and live-streamed his encounter with police. He reappeared online in late April — nearly two months after the incident — and said that he had spent two weeks “quarantined” in Wuhan as well as his home town. 

Another journalist named Fang Bin was arrested by police in Wuhan on February 10. In one of his videos, he accused the government of “[covering] up the facts.” His last video was posted to his YouTube channel on February 9, and he has not been seen since. 

And last week, Chinese human rights lawyer Zhang Xuezhong was detained after posting a letter on WeChat criticizing the government’s response to COVID-19. In his letter, seen by SCMP, Zhang said that the handling of the coronavirus pandemic was emblematic of deep-rooted issues within the country’s leadership. According to SCMP, he was released a day later.

China is known for censoring criticism of its policies, and dissenters have been jailed or disappeared after making complaints. A Wuhan doctor named Li Wenliang died of the coronavirus after being silenced by local police for trying to warn his peers of a possible virus outbreak. He died on February 7.

Chinese government censors are working in overdrive to protect the party narrative its been drilling down on the country’s response to the novel coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan before spreading worldwide.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that the Chinese government was silencing coronavirus survivors who want answers on what went wrong with the country’s early coronavirus response. 

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