Zhang, an arts reporter for the German magazine Die Zeit, was detained on October 2, 2014, and accused on October 13 of picking quarrels and causing trouble. Zhang had helped Die Zeit in its coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. She returned to Beijing on October 1, the day before she was arrested, according to Die Zeit’s China correspondent, Angela Köckritz. Köckritz wrote in Die Zeit that Zhang had been denied access to her lawyer and that her family was not told about the detention for days.
In a news conference on October 13, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Zhang, as a Chinese citizen working for a German outlet in Beijing, had not complied with the proper regulations.
According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), police did not comply with the law that says they can hold suspects for no more than 30 days without charge or a court appearance. As of early November, Zhang had not been allowed to meet with her lawyer, her brother told the FCCC. She was being held in Beijing Municipal No. 1 Detention Center. According to her brother, she has now been officially arrested, accused of picking quarrels and causing trouble, but not yet charged. She has not yet been able to see a lawyer.
According to the FCCC, Chinese citizens are forbidden to work as reporters for foreign outlets. Foreign correspondents are able to hire Chinese citizens as assistants or drivers and only through the state.