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China: Covid ‘citizen journalist’ released after three years in jail

Fang Bin, a so-called citizen journalist who captured images of the initial Covid outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has been released after three years of imprisonment according to the BBC.

Fang shared videos of scenes in Wuhan and dissident messages during the outbreak of the virus and disappeared in February 2020, following a secret trial, sources said.

Fang was released on Sunday is now back home in Wuhan the BBC reported.

One particular video garnered widespread attention beyond China, in which, in the space of five minutes, he counted eight body bags outside a Covid hospital. He said he was detained that night but released.

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He subsequently released a video, his last prior to his detention, stating: “All people revolt – hand the power of the government back to the people”.

Fang Bin’s release was without prior warning as Chinese authorities are seemingly keen to put the pandemic firmly behind them. Several years of especially strict lockdowns and Covid rules have taken their toll societally, mentally and economically.

In February, the Chinese Communist Party’s top brass announced there had been a “decisive victory” over Covid, with the country having the lowest fatality rate in the world. They also said the country’s Covid exit was a “miracle”.

A recently published history textbook describes how the government “achieved major achievements in co-ordinating the prevention and control of the pandemic”.

Furthermore, China’s decisive censorship mechanism also means that the videos and accounts shared by those such as Fang and other citizen journalists will fade quite rapidly.

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