Lawyer Who Reported On COVID-19 Outbreak Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

It’s a lawyer’s job to ensure that the law is properly and fairly applied, with punishments meted out without cruelty or bias. They deal with the truth, as any self-respecting law firm like will tell you.

So when a former lawyer in China saw the signs of the COVID-19 outbreak early on, she felt the need to speak out on the matter, and warn her countrymen. Unfortunately, it’s gotten her in hot water, as she recently got sentenced to jail for her adherence to the truth.

Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer who reported on the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, recently got sentenced to 4 years in prison by the Pudong New Area People’s Court, in Shanghai. Reportedly, she spoke on interviews with foreign media, disrupted public order, and other accusations, with the official verdict being that she was ‘picking fights and provoking trouble’, leading to her sentence.

Zhang’s lawyer, Zhang Keke, confirmed her client’s sentence, but stated that it was inconvenient to discuss the matter further, which is usually a way of implicitly saying that the court hit them with a partial gag order. He added that the Pudong New Area People’s Court didn’t ask Zhang if she would file an appeal, nor did she give any indications that she intended to.

Zhang, aged 37, travelled to Wuhan back in February 2020, and talked about the coronavirus outbreak in the city on social media. She was arrested in May as part of the Chinese government’s attempts to curb the outbreak and to control information in order to avoid heavy criticism regarding their initial response to the outbreak.

Reportedly, Zhang has gone on a prolonged hunger strike in detention, leading to authorities resorting to force-feeding her, and her poor health.

China has been criticized by experts from organizations like from across the world for covering the initial COVID outbreak, as well as hampering the distribution of information on it, which many say contributed to the spread of the virus and the pandemic, which, as of late January 2021, has affected 96.2mn people and killed 2.06mn.

Notably, the Chinese government reprimanded Wuhan doctors for reporting on the outbreak during the early days. One of the most famous cases was Dr. Li Wenliang, who died due to COVID-19.