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EU demands release of whistleblower of Wuhan virus

ANI | Updated: Dec 29, 2020 23:02 IST


Brussels [Belgium], December 29 (ANI): The European Union External Action Service (EEAS) on Tuesday demanded that Beijing free citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was detained in May for her live stream reporting from Wuhan over Covid-19 and sentenced to four years of imprisonment.
In a statement by the spokesperson of the EEAS, it said that the restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China, "are growing and continue to be a source of great concern."
The scribe has been convicted of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble" for her reporting in the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak.
"According to credible sources, Ms Zhang has been subject to torture and ill-treatment during her detention and her health condition has seriously deteriorated. It is crucial that she receives adequate medical assistance," the statement from the EEAS read.
The EEAS pointed out that on December 13, the Jiangsu Higher People's Court upheld the first instance court decision on the case of human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng, confirming a sentence of four years' imprisonment, without giving to his defence lawyers the possibility to present a defence statement in accordance with China's Criminal Procedure Law.
"The European Union calls for the immediate release of Ms Zhang Zhan, of Mr Yu Wensheng, and of other detained and convicted human rights defenders... as well as all those who have engaged in reporting activities in the public interest," the statement added.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday (local time) lambasted Beijing for covering up the Coronavirus outbreak in China saying that the US and the world is beginning to "build up its efforts to push back" and hold China accountable.
China's court system is notoriously opaque, with sensitive cases often heard behind closed doors.
The trial comes just weeks before an international team of World Health Organization experts are expected to arrive in China to investigate the origins of Covid-19. (ANI)

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