Yahoo Accused of Helping China to Jail User

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By Audra Ang
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006

BEIJING -- Yahoo Inc. turned over a draft e-mail from one of its users to Chinese authorities, who used the information to jail the man on subversion charges, according to the verdict from his 2003 trial released Wednesday by a rights group.

It was the third time the U.S.-based Internet company has been accused of helping put a Chinese user in prison.

Jiang Lijun was sentenced to four years in prison in November 2003 for subversive activities aimed at overthrowing the ruling Communist Party.

Hong Kong-based Yahoo Holdings Ltd., a unit of Yahoo Inc., gave authorities a draft e-mail that had been saved on Jiang's account, Reporters Without Borders said, citing the verdict by the Beijing No. 2 People's Court. The Paris-based group provided a copy of the verdict, which it said it obtained this week.

Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is not familiar with Jiang's case.

"We condemn punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression, whether that activity takes place in China or anywhere else in the world," she said.

The draft e-mail, titled "Declaration," was similar to manuscripts called "Freedom and Democracy Party Program" and "Declaration of Establishment" that were recovered from a computer and a floppy disk owned by two other Internet activists, the verdict said.

The information was listed in the verdict under "physical evidence and written evidence." It proved that Jiang and the other activists were planning to "make preparations for organizing a party and to use violence to overthrow the Communist Party," the verdict said.

Jiang also was one of five activists who signed an open letter calling for political reform that was posted on the Internet ahead of the Communist Party congress -- a major event -- in November 2002.

"Little by little we are piecing together the evidence for what we have long suspected, that Yahoo is implicated in the arrest of most of the people we have been defending," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

The group said there were other cases that were similar, but it could not release any details because they were still being investigated.

While China encourages use of the Internet for business and education, it also tightly controls Web content, censoring anything it considers critical or a threat to the Communist Party. Blogs often are shut down, and users who post articles promoting Western-style democracy and freedom are regularly detained and jailed under vaguely worded subversion charges.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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