Zhang Zhan 张展
September 3, 2020 Comments Off on Zhang Zhan 张展
Crime: “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble”
Length of Punishment: N/A
Trial Date: N/A
Sentencing Date: N/A
Dates of Detention/Arrest/Indictment: May 15, 2020 (criminally detained); June 19, 2020 (arrested); September 15, 2020 (indicted)
Place of Incarceration: Pudong New District Detention Center, Shanghai Municipality
Shanghai police criminally detained citizen journalist and activist Zhang Zhan (张展) on May 15, 2020, on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” She had initially gone missing on May 14 in Wuhan. On June 19, 2020, Pudong New Distict Procuratorate approved the formal arrest of Zhang. She is being held at Pudong New District Detention Center in Shanghai. Zhang Zhan had travelled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, in early February. She reported numerous stories including the detentions of other independent reporters and harassment of families of victims seeking accountability from the epicenter via her WeChat, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
On September 18, 2020, Zhang’s lawyer Wen Yu received a phone call from the procuratorate that Zhang had been indicted and the case transfered to Pudong New District Court. The indictment, dated September 15, accused Zhang Zhan of traveling to Wuhan on February 3, 2020 and “sent a large amount of false information” on WeChat, Twitter, and YouTube and “accepted interviews with overseas media Radio Free Asia and Epoch Times and maliciously stirred up the Wuhan epidemic situation.” The procuratorate recommended she receive a 4-5 year sentence.
Zhang’s lawyer Dai Peiqing was granted a meeting on September 9, 2020. He learnt that Zhang Zhan had started a hunger strike on September 2 and detention center authorities had begun to forcibly feed her. He reported her health was very poor. Zhang Zhan received another visit from her lawyer Wen Yu on September 28. The lawyer reported afterwards that Zhang seemed very thin and weak. Shanghai Pudong District Procuratorate refused to recognize Zhang’s lawyer Ren Quanniu’s credentials on August 31, illegally claiming that Zhang herself needed to sign the entrustment papers, even though her family had signed the papers. As a result, he was not allowed to examine any of the case documents.
A former lawyer, Zhang Zhan, born in the 1980s, has long been active in speaking out about politics and the human rights situation in China. She has been repeatedly harassed and threatened by the authorities. In 2019, she spoke out on the Hong Kong protests by posting comments, writing articles and holding up placards to support the protesters. In September 2019, she was summoned by Shanghai police and was later criminally detained and arrested on suspicion of “picking quarrels” for her support for Hong Kong. Police released her on November 26, 2019. During her detention, she was reportedly forced to undergo psychiatric examination twice.