Chinese citizen journalists remain in detention, reports say

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — Chinese citizen journalists arrested in February while reporting on the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan are on hunger strike and under residential surveillance, according to press reports.

Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist, continues to be detained, The Epoch Times reported Friday. Zhang is being held in Shanghai and is on hunger strike, as she faces charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to the South China Morning Post.

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Chen Qiushi, a journalist and lawyer who made headlines when he disappeared in February, is under government surveillance at home, along with his parents, the BBC reported.

Chen reported from Wuhan in late January before he went missing on Feb. 6.

Xu Xiaodong, a Chinese mixed martial arts fighter and Chen’s friend, posted a video to YouTube on Thursday confirming the 35-year-old Chen was in good health and was under “supervised surveillance at a designated residence” in Qingdao, Shandong Province.

“The authorities have investigated his activities on the mainland, Hong Kong and Japan,” Xu said.

“They are satisfied that he has no financial links with ‘foreign forces,’ was not responsible for any subversive activities [and as a result decided] not to prosecute him.”

A lawyer who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity said the surveillance is against the law.

“Since the authorities have decided not to prosecute him, it is actually not lawful to continue to keep him in close surveillance,” the source said.

Citizen journalists began to roam the streets of Wuhan in January as the Chinese government and local Wuhan authorities declined to provide more information on the coronavirus.

Li Zehua, a journalist who disappeared after a car chase, could also be under residential surveillance, according to The Epoch Times. Fang Bin, another Wuhan-based whistleblower active on YouTube, remains missing, the report says.