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A Chinese journalist has been sentenced to 4 years in prison for covering the COVID-19 virus

To protest her arrest and indictment, Ms. Zhang began a long hunger strike, her lawyers said. In response, the authorities forcibly fed her through a feeding tube and handcuffed her so that she could not withdraw.

Ms. Zhang’s trial at the Shanghai Pudong People’s Court on Monday took less than three hours. The official charge on which she was convicted was “inciting controversy and inciting trouble,” a vague and common charge used against government critics. Prosecutors initially recommended a sentence of between four and five years.

Ms Zhang appeared during the trial in a wheelchair. One of her attorneys, Zhang Qi, wrote Monday on WeChat, a messaging app. Mr. Zhang wrote in a post a few days ago that she had lost a significant amount of weight and could not be recognized until only a few weeks ago.

Ms. Zhang barely spoke during the hearing, except for Mr. Zhang, who had nothing to do with Ms. Zhang.

After the verdict was announced, Ren Canyo, another attorney for Ms. Zhang, said Ms. Zhang’s mother, who was escorted by security officials to the courtroom for trial, cried uncontrollably.

Few others were allowed in, as sensitive hearings in China are often held behind closed doors. Before the trial, reporters and supporters of Ms. Zhang gathered near the courtroom but was pushed away by security officials. Li Dawei, a friend of Ms. Zhang’s, said that he and about 10 other people who tried to attend the session were taken to a nearby police station.

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Chen Jiangang, a Chinese human rights lawyer, said Ms. Zhang’s long sentence showed that the government considers preserving her narrative of the outbreak to be key to its grip on power.

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