Calls for release of Christian journalist jailed for reporting on Wuhan Covid-19 outbreak

Zhang Zhan, 37, has been jailed for reporting on the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan.(Photo: Deutsche Welle)

A Christian independent journalist has been jailed in China for reporting early on about the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan.

Zhang Zhan was sentenced to four years on Monday for covering the emergence of the virus in the Chinese city that went on to become a global pandemic. 

The charge against her was "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".

According to The Christian Post, the 37-year-old saw reporting on the outbreak as God's will. 

"I warned her about going to Wuhan when everyone else was trying to leave," said her friend and fellow lawyer, Li Dawei.

"She is a staunch Christian and said it was God's will — she had to do this and tell everyone the truth."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on the Chinese government to release Zhang "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.

He continued: "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.

"Her hasty trial, to which foreign observers were denied access, shows how fearful the CCP is of Chinese citizens who speak the truth."

He added that China's "fear of transparency and its ongoing repression of fundamental freedoms are a sign of weakness, not strength, and a threat to all of us."