Jailed Chinese citizen journalist and former lawyer Zhang Zhan is close to death following months of intermittent hunger strikes in protest at her jailing, a Washington based news service has learned. Back in December 2020, Zhang was sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of a vaguely defined charge often levelled by the authorities against those critical of the Chinese authorities. “I don’t think she’s going to live much longer,” Zhang’s brother Zhang Ju tweeted, US government-funded private non-profit news service Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. “If she doesn’t make it through the coming winter, I hope the world will remember her as she once was,” he added.

Raising concerns about the health condition of Chinese journalist and former lawyer Zhang Zhan, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) last month had urged the Chinese authorities to exonerate and release Zhang immediately. Zhang covered the coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan in February 2020 exposing the methods employed by the Chinese authorities to contain its spread as well as the state of affairs in local hospitals. She was arrested in May 2020, accused of spreading false information through online platforms. The indictment document also said Zhang had speculated on the coronavirus outbreak while giving interviews to foreign news organisations.

Currently, Zhang is on a hunger strike to protest the arbitrary charges against her. Her health has since declined due to malnutrition. Zhang Zhan’s mother told RFA that her health seems to have deteriorated. “She can’t walk unassisted now, and her head keeps drooping as she speaks,” her mother said. “She will be in huge danger if they don’t release her on medical parole,” she added.