Jailed Chinese Reporter Joins Yahoo Suit
Monday, June 11, 2007; 1:12 AM
HONG KONG -- A jailed Chinese reporter accused of leaking state secrets has joined a U.S. lawsuit claiming Yahoo Inc. helped the Chinese government convict dissidents, his mother said Sunday.
Shi Tao, who was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison, is seeking compensation from the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet company, claiming Yahoo Hong Kong and Yahoo China provided information to the Chinese authorities that led to his arrest.
Shi, a former writer for the financial publication Contemporary Business News, was jailed for providing state secrets to foreigners. His conviction stemmed from an e-mail he sent containing his notes on a government circular that spelled out restrictions on the media.
Yahoo did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The company has acknowledged turning over data on Shi at the request of the Chinese government, saying company employees face civil and criminal sanctions if they ignore local laws. It denies Yahoo Hong Kong was involved.
Shi's legal challenge, filed May 29 in U.S. District Court, is part of an earlier lawsuit by the World Organization for Human Rights USA, which is suing Yahoo, its subsidiary in Hong Kong, and Alibaba.com Inc., a Yahoo partner that runs Yahoo China, citing federal laws that govern torture and other violations of international law.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization is seeking unspecified damages and wants Yahoo to actively secure the release of any detainees.
"I believe my son is innocent. We will fight until the end," Shi's mother, Gao Qingsheng, said at a news conference in Hong Kong. "We sue Yahoo ... not for Shi Tao, but to avoid any more innocent people from being prosecuted in the future."
The 61-year-old was in South Africa last week to receive the annual Golden Pen of Freedom prize on behalf of her son. On her way back home, she stopped by Hong Kong to meet lawmaker Albert Ho, who filed a complaint about the case with the city's privacy commissioner last year.
Ho said he would also appeal to the privacy commissioner for its earlier decision that said there was not enough evidence to show Yahoo Hong Kong violated privacy regulations that led to Shi's arrest.
Plaintiffs in the American case also include imprisoned dissident Wang Xiaoning and his wife, Yu Ling.
Wang Xiaoning was sentenced in September 2003 on the charge of "incitement to subvert state power," a vaguely defined statute that the Communist Party frequently uses to punish its political critics.
The Chinese government said Wang distributed pro-democracy writings authored by him and others by e-mail and through Yahoo Groups, an online e-mail community.