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Chinese citizen journalist under 'constant torment' after Wuhan, lawyer says

Citizen journalists arrested in Wuhan, China, during the early stages of the pandemic have gone missing or remain in detention. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Citizen journalists arrested in Wuhan, China, during the early stages of the pandemic have gone missing or remain in detention. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A Chinese citizen journalist who took to the streets of Wuhan in February is being tortured while on hunger strike, according to her lawyer.

Zhang Zhan, 37, a former lawyer being detained near Shanghai, has had feeding tubes forcibly inserted and her arms restrained, The Guardian and CBS News reported.

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"In addition to headache, dizziness and stomach pain, there was also pain in her mouth and throat. She said this may be inflammation due to the insertion of a gastric tube," said Zhang Keke, Zhang's lawyer, according to The Guardian.

Zhang Keke also said in his blog post his client complained of "constant torment" when he visited her Tuesday.

"She was wearing thick pajamas with a girdle around the waist, her left hand pinned in front and right hand pinned behind," he said.

Zhang Zhan was arrested in May and charged with "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" after sharing videos of Wuhan during the first coronavirus outbreak. In November, she was formally indicted of charges spreading false information and could face five years in prison.

The first known outbreak of the novel coronavirus occurred in Wuhan in a seafood market in late December, but China's central government denied human-to-human transmissions for four weeks. During that time, Wuhan residents traveled domestically and abroad.

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Zhang began to report from Wuhan after the lockdown, criticizing the government. A lawyer who spoke to CBS News on Friday said Zhang's decision to go to a police station to look for Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who went missing while reporting, may have played a role in her arrest.

Fang remains missing after filming inundated hospitals. Fang's footage also captured police knocking on his door shortly before his disappearance.

Other Chinese citizens who were arrested for reporting from Wuhan include Chen Qiushi, a former attorney, and Li Zehua.

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