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Global civil society organisations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have sought the release of Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist who was jailed for reporting on China’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week, her brother Zhang Ju said in a tweet that she is severely underweight and may not live for much longer, AFP reported.

“She may not survive the coming cold winter,” Zhang Ju wrote. “In her heart, it seems there is only God and her beliefs, with no care for anything else.”

Zhang Ju said that he has urged his sister through letters to take care of herself.

The journalist’s family added that she is now close to death after going on a hunger strike.

Gwen Lee, China campaigner at Amnesty International, said that Zhang Zhan should not have been jailed in the first place. “The Chinese authorities must release her immediately so that she can end her hunger strike and receive the appropriate medical treatment she desperately needs,” he said.

The Amnesty campaigner added that the Chinese government’s prosecution of the journalist was a “shameful attack on human rights”.

Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer-turned-activist, had travelled to Wuhan in February 2020. The 38-year-old’s live reports on the pandemic and the plight of residents in the central city were widely shared on social media platforms. Her…

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