No news from Zhang Zhan, the lawyer who tried to circumvent China's censorship

Where is Zhang Zhan? Imprisoned for four years for documenting what was happening in Wuhan During the first weeks of the pandemic, this 40-year-old activist should have been released from prison on Monday. But will she really be free? Probably not. She will continue to be under strict home surveillance, with limited movement and interactions, both for her and her family. Although the main issue now is that no one has yet been able to attest that Zhang returned to her house from Shanghai.

This career lawyer has been in the women’s prison in China’s financial capital since she was sentenced in December 2020 to four years in prison for “seeking altercations and provoking trouble”, a common and meaningless charge that the Chinese authorities use very often to lock up critics.

Zhang’s notoriety began when he decided to travel to the city of Wuhan in February 2020. He then joined the list of so-called citizen journalists – activists and bloggers who come to cover an event to broadcast it on their social media accounts – who already They were at the epicenter of the pandemic trying to document, without the filter of censorship, daily life in the first city in the world under confinement.

In broadcasts on YouTubeZhang, who was already on the radar of the Chinese police for his support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, criticized the Chinese Government for its management of the pandemic and assured that the inhabitants of Wuhan were “harassed by the city police if they complained”.

Although also, as could be seen in her videos, she was involved in some altercations by kicking down the fences that closed off a quarantined development, sneaking into the city’s crematoriums to record corpses and calling some police officers who wouldn’t let her “Nazis.” enter some blocked neighborhoods.

The Chinese state media clung to these facts to justify the harsh four-year sentence that Zhang received. “External forces confused Zhang by preaching poisonous whispers, making her paranoid into believing that it is just and redemptive to fight against the Chinese system,” said an editorial in the Chinese newspaper Global Times.

Shanghai prosecutors accused him of using social media platforms to “spread large volumes of false information” and alleged that he “maliciously exaggerated” the pandemic situation in interviews with Radio Free Asia y Epoch Timestwo newspapers very close to the Republican Party of the United States and that Beijing considers former President Donald Trump’s media tentacles.

Various human rights groups, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which granted Zhang its Press Freedom Award in 2021, are trying these days to find out something about the situation in which the activist finds herself. As this newspaper has been able to find out, Zhang has not visited her parents’ house, with whom she lived before being detained.

“Only her parents and sister know where she is now, but the police have prohibited them from saying anything. As they knew that in recent years she has become a character of media interest, she will surely be held for a while in some secret place,” assures a source close to the family. Local authorities maintain their usual silence, as they did when Zhang was missing for more than six months until the police confirmed that she had been detained for her work in Wuhan.

By Editor

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