A Chinese lawyer and self-described citizen journalist who went missing over 600 days ago after documenting life in Wuhan during the COVID-19 pandemic has reemerged in a video released by a friend, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Chen Qiushi went missing last year in February about two weeks after releasing early videos of what would eventually become the COVID-19 pandemic. The videos captured the situation on the ground in the city, which has a population of 11 million, and Chen’s friends and family said after his disappearance that they believe he was forced into quarantine by government officials even though he had no symptoms of COVID-19.
On Thursday, Chen made a brief appearance on a livestream hosted by a friend on YouTube and later released a letter on Twitter.
"Over the past year and eight months, I have experienced a lot of things. Some of it can be talked about, some of it can’t," reads the letter, according to the Journal. "I believe you understand."
Chen’s videos were widely watched on WeChat, a social media platform popular in China, and later on YouTube when his WeChat account was removed, though YouTube is blocked in China. Many of his videos included interviews with locals who had lost a loved one to COVID-19, in others he went to local hospitals to show the conditions, and in one video he talked to a fellow citizen journalist about a visit from the local police.
"I’m not even scared of death. You think I’m scared of you, Communist Party?" Chen said in one video posted just a week before he went missing, in which he also says that local authorities have put pressure on him and his relatives in an effort to get him to return to his hometown.
Chen did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment, and a police officer who responded to the newspaper’s calls to the Wuhan Municipal Public Security Bureau said that he lacked permission to discuss anything.
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