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China COVID-19: Fang Bin, Who Reported On Wuhan Outbreak, Released After Three Years In Jail

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Fang Bin, who recorded the initial Covid epidemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has been released from prison after three years, according to individuals who spoke to the BBC.

Wuhan COVID Videos Went Viral

Fang is one of many ‘citizen journalists’ who vanished after posting footage of events in Wuhan, the pandemic’s epicentre. He was found guilty at a covert trial in Wuhan and given a three-year prison term after going missing in February 2020, according to sources who stated that he is in good health and was freed on Sunday.

Fang has returned to his Wuhan home.

He recorded a video in which, over the course of five minutes, he counted eight body bags outside a Covid hospital. This video quickly went viral. He claimed that he was arrested that night but later freed. Then a video with the slogan “All people revolt – hand the power of the government back to the people” appeared on the screen. The last video he shared was that one.

Although activists have applauded his release, they are worried about Zhang Zhan, a 39-year-old former lawyer who was arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to four years in prison in December 2020.

Their videos offered a unique look at Wuhan in the first few months of 2020. Lockdowns had been implemented and cases were increasing, but officials continued to provide little information. The 76-day lockdown in Wuhan, which served as the model for the tough zero-Covid strategy adopted by the nation, severely taxed the city.

After hearing about a resident’s experience, Zhang, a Shanghai resident, travelled to Wuhan in February 2020 to report on the outbreak. She shared recordings despite allegedly receiving threats from local officials while being active on Twitter and YouTube, both of which are prohibited in mainland China.

“Maybe I have a rebellious soul… I’m just documenting the truth. Why can’t I show the truth?” she stated in a BBC-obtained interview with an independent filmmaker.

Worst COVID wave in China

As China tries to recover from the pandemic, Fang’s release occurred covertly and without prior notice. A devastating Covid wave was unleashed late in 2022 as a result of years of brutal lockdowns and unbending Covid regulations, which had taken a heavy toll.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the nation has documented 120,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The majority of those were noted between December 8, 2022, and January 12, 2023.

With the lowest fatality rate in the world, the Chinese Communist Party’s top officials declared a “decisive victory” over Covid in February. They also referred to the country’s withdrawal from Covid as a “miracle”.

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