Li Zehua, the missing Chinese whistleblower who reported extensively about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, has posted a video claiming that he was detained and forcibly placed in quarantine by the police.
Li Zehua's recent appearance comes nearly two months after he posted a video in which he was being chased by a white SUV and later a live-stream that ended when several agents entered his apartment on February 26.
Where was Li Zehua?
Li Zehua took to Twitter, YouTube, and Weibo to make his return public. In the video, the journalist said that on February 26, after a white SUV pulled up in front of him while he was driving in the Wuchang district in Wuhan, he panicked and took off. However, the car started chasing him.
According to the translation of the video made by The Guardian, as Li returned to his apartment, he saw a group of uniformed police officers and staff in protective suits knocking on the doors of his neighbours. Scared, for hours, Li sat in front of his computers with the lights of the house turned off.
Around three hours later, he heard a knock and saw three men entering his apartment. After identifying themselves as public security, they asked Li to accompany them to the local police station. Li was informed by the police officials that he was being investigated on charges of disrupting public order, which later was dropped as he had visited 'sensitive epidemic areas' and would need to undergo quarantine.
Li Zehua was released on March 28
Li further went on to reveal that he was forced to leave his devices. After spending a month in quarantine in Wuhan, he was moved to his hometown, located in a different province. Apart from being provided meals three times a day, Li also had access to watch state broadcaster CCTV's evening newscast. A team of security guards monitored him round the clock, during the quarantine.
Stating that he has been spending time with his family ever since his release on 28 March, Li said: "After finishing the quarantine, I've been with my family. Now I'm planning for my development this year. I'm grateful to all the people who looked after me and cared about me. I wish all people suffering the epidemic can pull through. God bless China. I wish the world can unite together."
Li's 'patriotic' turn raises a lot of questions
In its report, The Guardian mentioned that Li's 'tone and comments, neutral and patriotic, were markedly different from his previous video.' Praising the police, Li said: "Throughout the whole time, the police acted civilly and legally, making sure I had rest and food. They really cared about me."
Li, who worked with the state-broadcaster CCTV, was quite vocal in his coverage of the coronavirus in Wuhan. In one of the videos, while reporting about the local neighbourhood committee's efforts to cover up new infections and busy crematorium, Li had said: "I don't want to remain silent, or shut my eyes and ears. It's not that I can't have a nice life, with a wife and kids. I can. I'm doing this because I hope more young people can, like me, stand up." His videos were viewed millions of times on social media platforms.
However, in his latest video, Li appeared to be in total contrast to his previous personality. Quoting a line from a Confucian text, Li said: "The human heart is unpredictable, restless. Its affinity to what is right is small. Be discriminating, be uniform so that you may hold fast," he said. However, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin, the two citizen journalists who have been missing after their reports from Wuhan, are still untraceable.