A Chinese citizen-journalist who made videos of Wuhan during the COVID-19 outbreak has been exiled to the US to avoid persecution by the Chinese authorities. That’s according to the nonprofit organization Committee to Protect Journalists, who published an interview with the citizen-journalist
Li Zehua, also known as Kcriss Li, gained international attention for his coverage of the Wuhan outbreak in early 2020. However, his reporting landed him in trouble with the Chinese government, and he was forced to flee the country to avoid arrest and persecution.
Li was working as a freelance journalist in Wuhan when the coronavirus outbreak began to spread rapidly in the city in late 2019. He became one of the few reporters on the ground, documenting the impact of the virus on the city and its people. His videos and interviews with residents provided a rare glimpse into the early days of the outbreak, when the Chinese government was still downplaying its severity.
However, Li’s reporting quickly drew the attention of Chinese authorities, who began to crack down on journalists and social media users who were reporting on the outbreak. In February 2020, Li was taken into custody by Chinese police, and his whereabouts were unknown for several weeks.
After his release, Li posted a video on YouTube in which he described his ordeal. He said that he had been detained for two months, during which time he was interrogated and threatened with imprisonment if he did not stop his reporting. Li also said that he had been followed by security agents after his release, and that he had been forced to go into hiding to avoid arrest.
In April 2020, Li announced on social media that he had fled China and was seeking asylum in a third country. He said that he had been forced to leave the country because of the Chinese government’s crackdown on journalists and its efforts to suppress information about the outbreak.
Li’s story is just one example of the challenges faced by journalists and citizen reporters in China, where the government tightly controls the media and suppresses information that is critical of the regime. The Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which included the censorship of social media and the detention of journalists and whistleblowers, has drawn widespread criticism from the international community.
Li’s bravery in reporting on the Wuhan outbreak, and his willingness to speak out about his experiences, have made him a symbol of the struggle for press freedom and human rights in China. However, his exile is a stark reminder of the risks faced by those who dare to challenge the Chinese government’s official narrative.