Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer widely referred to as a "citizen journalist," has been sentenced to four years in prison in connection with her reporting on the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pudong New Area People's Court in Shanghai handed down the sentence on Monday, with the charges said to be "picking fights and provoking trouble." Attorney Zhang Keke, one of the lawyers representing Zhang Zhan, confirmed the four-year sentence on Monday but was short on additional details. Per the Associated Press, this is potentially a sign that the court in question has issued a partial gag order.
An indictment sheet released earlier this month, as cited in a separate Guardian report, described Zhang's reporting as having included "false information" shared via text, video, and social media including WeChat and Twitter. Zhang, 37, was also said to have accepted media invites from international outlets "and maliciously speculated on Wuhan's COVID-19 pandemic."
Zhang, meanwhile, has denied the charges against her and maintained that the reports in question were built from first-hand accounts. According to her legal team, Zhang Zhan has been force fed with a tube after going on hunger strike. She is said to have appeared in court on Monday in a wheelchair.
Zhang was initially arrested in May. Other journalists have also faced similar actions by the Chinese government.