China jails citizen journalist for Wuhan reports

A Chinese court has handed a four-year prison sentence to a woman for independently reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan, where the first cases were identified.

The court in Shanghai sentenced former lawyer Zhang Zhan on Monday on the grounds of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."

Zhang traveled from Shanghai to Wuhan, which is located in Hubei Province, in February. She then posted firsthand accounts of the situation online, including authorities' response to the outbreak.

She was later detained, and accused of spreading false information and disrupting social order.

In the first hearing held on Monday, Zhang's lawyer said the defendant denied the charges, and even refused to be tried.

The lawyer described the ruling as unjust, adding that the prosecutors presented no evidence of Zhang spreading false information. The lawyer also pointed out that the right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under Chinese law.

Zhang is one of several people who have been detained in China for attempting to report on the coronavirus situation in Wuhan.