Share
News

We Finally Know What Happened to Man Who Told Citizens to 'Resist' at Beginning of Pandemic Then Disappeared - Is He a Political Prisoner?

Share

Chinese authorities were preparing Sunday to release a man who disappeared three years ago after publicizing videos of overcrowded hospitals and bodies during the COVID-19 outbreak, a relative and another person familiar with his case said.

Fang Bin and other members of the public who were dubbed citizen journalists posted details of the pandemic in early 2020 on the internet and social media, embarrassing Chinese officials who faced criticism for failing to control the outbreak.

The last video Fang, a seller of traditional Chinese clothing, posted on Twitter was of a piece of paper reading, “All citizens resist, hand power back to the people.”

Fang’s case is part of Beijing’s crackdown on criticism of China’s early handling of the pandemic, as the ruling Communist Party seeks to control the narrative of the country.

He was scheduled to be released Sunday, according to two people who did not want to be identified for fear of government retribution. One of them said Fang was sentenced to three years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a vague charge traditionally used against political dissidents.

Trending:
Watch: Refs Miss Blatant Foul as Caitlin Clark Gets Slapped, Sparks Instant Rage in Fans Who've Had Enough

The Associated Press could not independently confirm his release and could not confirm the details with the authorities.

Two offices of Wuhan’s public security bureau did not provide a phone number of their information office or answer any questions. Phone calls to a court that reportedly sentenced Fang rang unanswered on Sunday afternoon. A woman from another court that had reportedly handled Fang’s appeal said she was not authorized to answer questions.

In early 2020, the initial COVID outbreak devastated the city of Wuhan, home to 11 million residents, in central China’s Hubei province. Under a 76-day lockdown, its streets were deserted for months, apart from ambulances and security personnel.

At that time, a small number of citizen journalists tried to tell their stories and those of others with smart phones and social media accounts, defying the Communist Party’s tightly policed monopoly on information. Although their movement was small, the scale was unprecedented in any previous major disease outbreak or disaster in China.

Is the Chinese government responsible for the outbreak of COVID-19?

But the information they posed soon got them into trouble. Fang and another citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi, disappeared in February.

Chen in September 2021 resurfaced on his friend’s live video feed on YouTube, saying he had suffered from depression. But he did not provide details about his disappearance.

Another citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan, who also had reported on the early stage of the outbreak, was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of picking fights and provoking trouble in December 2020. About eight months later, her lawyer said she was in ill health after staging a long-running hunger strike.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , , , , ,
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation