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A Chinese Citizen Journalist Covering Coronavirus Just Live-Streamed His Own Arrest

A citizen journalist who was exposing the reality of life inside the Wuhan lockdown zone at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak was detained by China’s security forces at his apartment in Wuhan — and the whole thing was captured on camera. Li Zehua is a former employee of state-run television station CCTV who quit…

A Chinese Citizen Journalist Covering Coronavirus Just Live-Streamed His Own Arrest

A citizen journalist who was exposing the reality of life inside the Wuhan lockdown zone at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak was detained by China’s security forces at his apartment in Wuhan — and the whole thing was captured on camera.

Li Zehua is a former employee of state-run television station CCTV who quit and went rogue earlier this month to report on the situation in Wuhan, and has posted videos from crematoriums, virology labs, and funeral homes inside the lockdown zone.

Li is the third citizen journalist to be detained by authorities in Wuhan in recent weeks and was live streaming on YouTube from his apartment in the city when unnamed officials arrived at his door and stopped the recording.

Li was also secretly streaming the scene to a friend via Skype, and that footage, which was subsequently uploaded to YouTube, shows the people searching through Li’s flat before that video too goes dark.

READ: Here’s how China is hunting down its coronavirus critics

Li’s friend, who refers to himself as “stone,” confirmed to VICE News that Li was taken away by unidentified officers and has not been heard from since Wednesday. He added that Li knew he was being followed but said no one knows who took him, where he was being held — or why.

In recent days, China has been hailing the success of its efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus as infection numbers and the death rate begins to decline. But China’s security officials are showing no signs of slowing down in their efforts to silence dissenting voices critical of the regime and its response to the coronavirus.

As the coronavirus outbreak escalated in February, Li, who was working as a presenter for the state-run television channel CCTV7, suddenly quit his job and moved to Wuhan to document what was happening on the ground.

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“But why did I resign from CCTV? The reason is that I hope more young people, more people like me, can stand up,” Li said in his final video.

Li was also inspired by the work of other citizen journalists, such as Chen Quishi and Fang Bin, both of whom were detained over two weeks ago and have not been heard from since.

Since arriving in the city on Feb. 16, Li documented the situation in the Baibuting Community, an area hit particularly hard by the epidemic.

In total Li posted six videos from Wuhan before he disappeared, including one showing a man lying on the ground in the middle of the street, and one featuring interviews with migrant workers who were forced to set up camp in the underground parking garage at Wuchang Railway Station.

One of Li’s most shocking videos showed him talking to porters at a crematorium in the city who said they were being given high wages in order to transport corpses.

READ: China arrested a whistleblower who shot viral video of coronavirus corpses in Wuhan

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