Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo has condemned China’s sentencing of a journalist who reported on COVID-19 to four years in prison, saying the Chinese Communist Party “will do anything” to silence those who question it. make.
“The United States condemns the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s mock trial and conviction of civilian journalist Zhang Zhan on December 28. We call on the PRC government to release her immediately and unconditionally,” Pompeo said in a statement. said.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has once again shown that it will do whatever is necessary to silence those who question the party’s official line, even with regard to important public health information.”
“Lying is a feature, not a mistake of authoritarian regimes,” Pompeo added.
RUSSIA GOES TO ALLOW CORONAVIRUS DEATH 3 TIMES HIGHER AS REPORTED
Zhang, 37, was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday after reporting earlier this year on overcrowded hospitals and conditions in Wuhan. According to reports, she was convicted of the offense of “picking quarrels and provoking problems.”
Zhang posted videos on YouTube showing interviews with residents and images from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
She was critical of the response and was eventually detained in May. “The government’s way of running this city was just intimidation and threats,” she told The New York Times in one video. “This is truly the tragedy of this country.”
Reuters, referring to her lawyer, reported that there was likely to be an appeal and said her client believed she was “being prosecuted for exercising her freedom of speech.”
CHINA JOURNALIST WHO REPORTED COVID-19 CENTERED UP TO 4 YEARS
Pompeo said the world ‘relied heavily’ on the information provided by Zhang and other civilian journalists after the CCP restricted and manipulated coronavirus information at the outbreak. “Her hasty trial, to which access to foreign observers has been denied, shows how afraid the CCP is of Chinese citizens telling the truth,” the statement said.
The Trump administration has repeatedly blamed Beijing for the pandemic, accusing the CCP of lying about human-to-human transmission of the virus and other important COVID-19 information, which is spreading the disease around the world.
In June, senior Chinese officials released a comprehensive report on the country’s response, defending Beijing’s actions.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“The Chinese government has not postponed or covered up anything,” Ma Xiaowei, chairwoman of the National Health Commission, said at the time. “Instead, we immediately reported virus data and relevant information about the epidemic to the international community and made a significant contribution to the prevention and control of the epidemic around the world.”
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.