Relatives of a citizen journalist who defied the Chinese government to report on the true conditions of the coronavirus crisis and its effects on Wuhan say that the man has disappeared. According to The Washington Post, Chen Qiushi, a Chinese lawyer turned media activist, has not contacted friends or family since late Thursday night, and many fear that he has been either jailed or quarantined by the authorities in China.
Chen first made a name for himself after slipping into Wuhan on January 24, even though the city had gone into lockdown mode. Instead of keeping a low profile, he walked around the city of 11 million people, interviewing residents and filming the response to the outbreak.
One video, which had been viewed more than 2 million times, included Chen’s descriptions of the resource shortage in Wuhan and the overworked medical staff. Others included interviews where he visited hospitals, isolation wards, and funeral parlors.
Since Chen’s disappearance, a friend has posted to his social media accounts, alleging that the Chinese government had forcibly taken the journalist to be quarantined, despite the fact that he had previously given no indication of poor health.
Chen, believing that he would be a target of the government, had given his friends access to his accounts in the event that he went missing.
Chen was “detained in the name of quarantine,” declared Xu Xiaodong, a close friend of Chen, on Youtube.
“Qiushi’s mother immediately asked them where and when he was taken away; they declined to say,” he added.
Another friend echoed the chilling mystery surrounding Chen’s disappearance.
“We can do nothing, not even his parents,” he explained, choosing to remain anonymous.
“They didn’t even tell his parents where he is or how he is now. They didn’t allow them to make any phone calls.”
This was not the first time that the 34-year-old had taken up a journalistic cause — and gotten on the bad side of the government. In 2019, he reported on the anti-Beijing protests in Hong Kong, earning him a ban from popular Chinese social media platform Weibo.
After being kicked off of Weibo, Chen turned to Twitter and YouTube, where his reporting on Wuhan gained widespread traction. By the time of his disappearance, he had earned more than 250,000 Twitter followers and just shy of 250,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Chen’s disappearance has only added to a growing sense of outrage in China after the death of the whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, Li had tried to sound the alarm about the coronavirus virus, only to be investigated by the government for “spreading rumors.” Li sadly passed away after contracting the illness himself.