Missing Chinese Journalist Who Wrote About Wuhan Virus Re-appears After 2 Months

Published April 23rd, 2020 - 08:26 GMT
Li Zehua (pictured) has since emerged in a video online after he was last heard of on February 26. (YouTube/Li Zehua )
Li Zehua (pictured) has since emerged in a video online after he was last heard of on February 26. (YouTube/Li Zehua )
Li Zehua has posted a video claiming he was forcibly quarantined by police

A Chinese journalist who went missing for nearly two months after streaming videos from Wuhan has reappeared, and claims he was detained and forcibly quarantined by police.

Li Zehua was one of three Chinese journalists reporting from Wuhan's frontlines during its coronavirus epidemic who mysteriously disappeared. 

A former employee of state broadcaster CCTV, the 25 year old was last seen on February 26 in a video he posted online. 

The hours-long live-stream ended when agents entered his apartment - and he hadn't been seen since. 

But now, two months after he went missing, a video of Li has emerged across social media in which he explains his disappearance, The Guardian reported. 

He said on 26 February a white SUV pulled out in front of him while he was driving in the Wuchang district in Wuhan and shouted at him to stop. 

Panicking, he drove off with the car in pursuit and was able to reach his apartment. He recorded the video and posted it online later that day. 

After making it back to his apartment he said he turned the lights off and sat for hours in front of his computer for hours waiting. 

A knock came three hours later and three men who identified themselves as public security entered. They took Li to a police station where he was interrogated for 24 hours. He claims he was told he was being investigated on charges of disrupting public order.

Police later decided not to charge him but said he would need to be quarantined because he had visited 'sensitive epidemic areas'.

He claims he spent the next month in quarantine in Wuhan before he was released on March 28 and has since been spending time in his hometown in a different province. 

He was keen to stress that officers treated him politely while in quarantine and he was served three meals a day, monitored by security guards and able to watch the state broadcaster CCTV's evening newscast.   

Before he was taken by police, he had visited a series of sensitive venues in Wuhan, such as the community that held a huge banquet despite the epidemic and the crematorium which was hiring extra staff to help carry corpses, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). 

At the time of his disappearance the outlet said Li was likely targeted by secret police after visiting the £34million Wuhan Institute of Virology.

It has been at the centre of conspiracy theories, which suggest the killer virus originated there. 

Two other whistle-blowers who tried to inform the world about the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan are still missing.

The whereabouts of Chen Qiushi and Fang Bing have been unknown since February, and Chinese officials have not publicly commented on them.

The citizen journalists had sought to expose the true scale of the outbreak from the then epicentre by uploading videos to YouTube and Twitter, both banned in mainland China. 

Fang Bin went missing on February 9 after releasing a series of videos, including one showing piles of bodies being loaded into a bus.

It is alleged was arrested arrested briefly before disappearing. His last video showed hazmat-donning officers knocking on his door to measure his body temperature.

Chen, 34, has not been heard from since February 6.

He arrived in Wuhan just before the city went into lockdown in hopes of providing the world with the truth of the epidemic, he said. 

His reports detailed horrific scenes including a woman frantically calling family on her phone as she sits next to a relative lying dead in a wheelchair and the helpless situation of patients in the overstretched hospitals. 

His disappearance was revealed on his Twitter account, which is being managed by a friend. 

The citizen journalists' disappearances saw US Republican Representative Jim Banks recently implore the State Department to urge China to investigate. 

In a letter dated March 31, he asked the US government to seek a probe into the fates of Chen, Fang and Li.

'All three of these men understood the personal risk associated with independently reporting on coronavirus in China, but they did it anyway,' Banks wrote, alleging that the Chinese government 'imprisoned them - or worse'.

The news of Li's release comes the same day as it was revealed an award-winning Chinese author who kept an online diary about her lockdown life in Wuhan is facing death threats after agreeing to publish her journal in foreign languages. 

Wuhan-native Fang Fang, 64, has provided millions with a rare glimpse into the centre of the coronavirus outbreak with 60 posts penned in isolation and uploaded onto her social media account.

She has revealed how she received threats and is now concerned for her family's safety after her decision to release her diary in the West caused uproar.

Fang Fang published the first entry of her diary on January 25 - two days after Wuhan was placed under lockdown.

In one post on February 17 she described a Wuhan in 'a catastrophe' and indicated that hospitals would use up 'one booklet of death certificates every few days' and the vans from crematoriums would each carry several corpses stuffed into body bags.

Her last post was posted on March 24 when the government announced it would lift the lockdown on Wuhan on April 8.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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