UPDATED 9:28 AM PT – Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently condemned the Chinese Communist Party over the imprisonment of a citizen journalist. In a statement shared by the Department of State on Tuesday, he called the silencing of 37-year-old Zhang Zhan a sham prosecution and conviction while also demanding her immediate release.
On Monday, Zhan was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for her reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Back in February, she shared on social media how the Chinese government was trying to cover up the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. She also revealed overcrowded hospitals and harsh lockdown restrictions for residence.
Pompeo went on to criticize China for barring it’s citizens from speaking the truth against its communist regime. Zhan is one of several citizen journalists who has been detained for reporting against the Chinese government during the pandemic.
In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s lies, Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan’s uncensored reports from Wuhan gave the world a much-needed window into the outbreak of COVID-19. She should be celebrated for her courage – not imprisoned for it.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) December 29, 2020
This comes as a new report by Reporters Without Borders revealed at least 50 journalists were killed worldwide this year with a majority of them being deliberately targeted.
“The number of journalists killed in countries at peace, or so-called ‘at peace,’ is still extremely high,” stated Pauline Ades-Mevel, spokeswoman for Reporters Without Borders. “Sixty-eight percent of these 50 journalists were killed in countries that were not at war.”
According to the annual report, 84 percent of those killings were targeted attacks with reporters investigating organized crime, political corruption or environmental issues. Some of deadliest countries for journalists to report on include Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.
“Mexico is still the deadliest country throughout the world for killing journalists: eight journalists lost their lives in the country in 2020, 10 in 2019, 10 in 2018,” Ades-Mevel continued. “So, a very dangerous country for journalists, the most dangerous country and especially the manner in which journalists were killed.”
Pompeo said the U.S. will continue it’s support for the right of individuals to express themselves freely and peacefully.