Lawyer and citizen journalist Chen Qiushi has been missing since Thursday evening and likely been detained by authorities, say friends.
Chen arrived in Wuhan, the epicenter of a coronavirus epidemic that has claimed over 700 lives, just before the city was locked down, and has been visiting hospitals and conducting interviews with residents and family members of victims.
When he lost contact with friends and family members the same evening Dr Li Wenliang was fighting for his life, his mother recorded a video, asking Wuhan residents for help to find him.
That evening, Chen’s friend, famed MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong, went live on Youtube to explain why he had good reason to believe that authorities had detained him, offering detailed receipts that included voice chats and videos from people close to the situation.
Police in Qingdao, where Chen is from, visited his parents to inform them that he had been quarantined. They were unable to give a satisfactory answer when Chen’s mother asked why he was uncontactable on his phone if he was simply being quarantined.
A Wuhan local later visited the hostel where Chen was staying and found that he was no longer there. The motorbike that a supporter had lent him to help him get around the city was still outside the building.
Earlier in the week, Beijing announced a draconian new law that could see people given life imprisonment or the death sentence for crimes such as refusing to accept temperature checks and quarantine, or refusing to cooperate with law enforcement.
Critics say that the public security bureau is now using this catch-all regulation to deal with pesky citizen journalists.
Another notable citizen journalist, Fang Bin, was earlier detained by police on Feb 1 after a video he took of bodies piling up at a local hospital went viral on social media.
Police officers visited his home disguised as healthcare professionals on the pretext of conducting a temperature check before bashing through his door and taking him to the police station.
Under Chinese law, police may detain a suspect without putting them on trial for a maximum of 14 days.
Friends of Chen Qiushi say they are still trying to find out from the public security bureau where exactly he is being held.