Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for the release of Chinese Christian journalist Zhang Zhan, who was sentenced to four years in prison over her coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. He said her case is evidence the Chinese Communist Party fears “citizens who speak the truth.”
On Monday, Zhang became the first independent journalist to be sentenced to prison in China for covering the pandemic in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus that sparked the ongoing global pandemic.
The 37-year-old Christian, who saw her work as “God’s will,” reported on the conditions of those suffering from COVID-19 infections as well as the overly harsh lockdowns implemented by the CCP.
In a statement Tuesday, Pompeo condemned Zhang’s sentence and called on China’s government to release her “immediately and unconditionally.”
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shown once again it will do whatever it takes to silence those who question the Party’s official line, even regarding crucial public health information,” he said.
According to Pompeo, lying is a “feature, not a bug” of authoritarian regimes. He accused the CCP of restricting and manipulating information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan from the start and brutally silencing other brave truth-tellers.
“Because of the CCP’s gross malfeasance, the rest of the world relied heavily on uncensored reports from citizen journalists like Zhang to understand the true situation in Wuhan after the CCP-imposed strict media controls were enforced and a controllable outbreak turned into a deadly global pandemic,” he said. “Her hasty trial, to which foreign observers were denied access, shows how fearful the CCP is of Chinese citizens who speak the truth.”
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