The European Union on Tuesday renewed its call for the release of a Chinese journalist jailed for her reporting on Beijing’s coronavirus response, warning her health is deteriorating rapidly.

Former lawyer Zhang Zhan, 38, went to the city of Wuhan in February 2020 to report on the situation at the pandemic’s epicentre, questioning authorities’ handling of the crisis in her smartphone videos.

Zhang Zhan
Zhang Zhan. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

She was detained in May 2020 and sentenced in December to four years in jail for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. 

She has since embarked on a hunger strike and is reportedly very ill.

“The health condition of Zhang Zhan is rapidly deteriorating, while she remains imprisoned. Ms Zhang has suffered, among other, from severe malnutrition,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

“The EU urges China to take all necessary measures to ensure that Zhang Zhan receives urgent and adequate medical treatment, and is granted access to her family members, and lawyers of her choice.

European Union
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“The EU calls upon China to abide by its international human rights obligations and immediately and unconditionally release Zhang Zhan.”

The Chinese government have dismissed as “anti-China political manipulation” previous appeals for Zhang’s release from the international community, rights groups and her family.

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