Wuhan, ground zero for the global coronavirus pandemic, has largely bounced back


  • Fang Bin's family was told that the citizen journalist will be released from prison on April 30
  • Fang may have been held in solitary confinement throughout his three-year prison term
  • Fang's last online activity was on Feb. 1, 2020, when he live-streamed scenes inside a Wuhan hospital

A Chinese whistleblower who filmed the scenes inside hospitals and funeral homes during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in China's city of Wuhan had been secretly jailed for three years, according to a report.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) learned from an individual familiar with the case that Chinese authorities notified citizen journalist Fang Bin's family that he would be released from prison later this month, more than three years after he went incommunicado in early 2020.

"Fang Bin was sentenced in secret by the Jiang'an District People's Court to more than three years' imprisonment," the individual, who wished to remain anonymous for reasons of personal safety, told the outlet.

"The family hasn't received any legal documents or a copy of the judgment, however ... and they don't know the nature of the charges," the source added.

The source said that Fang had been detained in the Xiaojunshan former juvenile correctional center in Jiangxia district, Wuhan, and may have been held in solitary confinement throughout his over three-year prison term.

The Chinese judge who sentenced Fang declined to comment when contacted by the individual regarding the case. The source claimed that the judge, identified by the surname Lian, only said, "How dare you ask about this kind of thing?" before hanging up.

Fang will likely go live with his relatives after his release on April 30, friends of the family told the source.

"The police told the family to prepare for that," the person told RFA.

The Chinese citizen journalist's last online activity was on Feb. 1, 2020, when he live-streamed the scenes inside Wuhan's healthcare facilities during the city's lockdown and published more videos revealing his experience being interrogated by police.

Fang had published video reports showing scenes inside Wuhan No. 5 Hospital and a funeral home in Wuchang. He had caught the hospital staff moving out eight dead bodies in a span of five minutes.

Wuhan resident Wang Xiaohua said Fang was the first to publicly state in his video that the "Chinese Communist Party's authoritarian rule had given rise to the outbreak."

Wang said it was shocking to see the number of dead bodies piled up in the hospital during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, adding that the people witnessed it through Fang's "nationwide citizen journalism effort."

Fang was also joined by other high-profile bloggers who tried to expose the emerging virus outbreak in Wuhan.

Chinese authorities reportedly detained Fang's fellow citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi. Chen had been interviewing people around the mega hospitals being built in Wuhan.

Kcriss Li, another Chinese citizen journalist, continued Chen's work of reporting from the new hospitals until his dramatic chase by police on Feb. 26, 2020, which was streamed live.

Zhang Zhan, a lawyer-turned-reporter, was also detained and transported back to Shanghai for exposing the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. Several people have expressed concern about Zhang's health in prison after months of on-off hunger strikes and forced feeding.

In November 2022, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, comprised of congressmen, senators and several federal officials, called on China to release the individuals who reported on the COVID-19 pandemic from detention, including Fang.

The coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city Wuhan one year ago, before spreading into a global pandemic