Zhang's real crime: to report factually on the ground at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, at its then epicenter, Wuhan, in video dispatches that challenged the government's official narrative. And then to stubbornly defy the Chinese government by insisting on her innocence.
Why did this case rise above others? Maybe it's the photos we at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) received of her in jail, just before the trial. Behind bars and a clear barrier that partly reflects light and obscures her image, a face mask is pulled down just enough to show the feeding tubes fastened into her nostrils. Prison guards shaved the front of her head. Her eyes look right into the camera. They scream misery.