US condemns China for jailing citizen journalist

The United States has strongly condemned China for the criminal conviction of a woman who independently reported on the coronavirus outbreak in the city of Wuhan, where the first cases were identified.

A Chinese court sentenced former lawyer Zhang Zhan to four years in prison on Monday for allegedly spreading false information.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday that, "The Chinese Communist Party has shown once again it will do whatever it takes to silence those who question the Party's official line, even regarding crucial public health information."

He said the CCP restricted and manipulated information about the outbreak in Wuhan from the start and "brutally silenced other brave truth-tellers."

Zhang traveled from Shanghai to Wuhan, in Hubei Province, in February. She then posted firsthand accounts of the situation online, including the authorities' response to the outbreak. Zhang's lawyer has described the ruling as unjust.

US President Donald Trump's administration has repeatedly claimed that China is responsible for the pandemic.