A Chinese citizen journalist who went missing after exposing the government’s alleged suppression of early COVID-19 information has now been found to be under state supervision, according to a friend.
Chen Qiushi, a former human rights lawyer, arrived in Wuhan a day before it was placed in quarantine.
In a video posted on Jan. 30, Chen reported what he claimed to be the realities in the city, such as hospitals struggling with the incoming volume of patients.
He revealed that transportation to hospitals was difficult from the start, while those who managed to visit for consultation faced a string of other issues, including a lack of test kits, a lack of protective equipment, a lack of medical supplies and exhausted health workers.
At one point in the video, an elderly woman can be seen keeping a dead man in a wheelchair while waiting for a “car” to take him to the morgue.
Chen concluded his report claiming that the justice department and police have been harassing him to disclose his location and “cooperate” with their investigation.
“I have the virus in front of me. Behind me is China’s law enforcement,” Chen said, adding that authorities have also harassed his family for information.
He ended the video, “F*ck you, I’m not even scared of death. You think I’m scared of you, Chinese Communist Party?”
Chinese citizen journalist Chen Qiushi has been missing since 7:00 PM last night. He traveled to Wuhan to report on the coronavirus outbreak. His family and friends are deeply worried. Please help to spread the news and support him.@BBCBreaking@cnnbrk@FoxNews@TIME@nytimes https://t.co/0mf9sada5A
— 陈秋实（陳秋實） (@chenqiushi404) February 7, 2020
Chen’s mother and friends have been unable to reach him since 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 (local time). The news came straight from his own Twitter account, presumably from a trusted individual with access to it.
In a YouTube video posted this week, Xu Xiaodong, a mixed martial arts fighter, revealed that Chen is now under “supervised surveillance at a designated residence” in Qingdao, Shandong Province. The two happen to be close friends.
“[Chen] Qiushi is still under the supervision of a certain agency and hasn’t come home yet,” Xu said, according to Radio Free Asia. “According to sources in China, Hong Kong and Japan, he has no money … and never incited anyone [to subversion].”
He added, “He has never been in touch with any opposition groups overseas. For the time being, there will be no prosecution or trial.”
An anonymous human rights lawyer confirmed that Chen is indeed in Qingdao, where he is registered and where his parents live. However, because he does not face prosecution, there appears no reason for him to be kept under surveillance.
“[Chen] Qiushi, who is together with his parents, is under strict supervision by the authorities,” the lawyer said, according to the South China Morning Post. “Since the authorities have decided not to prosecute him, it is actually not lawful to continue to keep him in close surveillance.”
It’s unclear if the person/people running Chen’s Twitter account was/were informed of his current whereabouts. As of Sept. 24 (local time), they were “still waiting for Chen Qiushi’s return.” They celebrated his birthday on Sept. 19.
Chen is not the only Chinese citizen journalist who went missing after reporting early on the coronavirus. Li Zehua, who traveled to Wuhan after Chen’s disappearance, disappeared in early February but emerged back in April. Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident, went missing at the same time but has not been found since, according to The Guardian.
Feature Image Screenshots via 陈秋实