http://www.theglobeandmail.com/serv...y/Front/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20060420.gtyahoo20Yahoo again cited for helping China convict dissident
Globe and Mail Update
BEIJING — When a Beijing court ordered a dissident jailed for trying to create a "Freedom and Democracy Party" in China, the verdict cited evidence from an increasingly common source: Yahoo Inc.
It was the third reported example of Yahoo supplying evidence that helped convict a Chinese dissident, and it added fresh fuel to the growing controversy over the collaboration between Chinese authorities and U.S.-based Internet companies.
The case was revealed on the eve of a summit between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President George W. Bush, who will meet in Washington today.
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Several of the biggest U.S. technology giants -- including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and others -- are facing strong criticism for their co-operation with Chinese censors and police.
The latest case was disclosed by a Paris-based advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders. The group released a written verdict by a Beijing court in 2003 that clearly states that Yahoo's Hong Kong branch had provided "user information" for a mailbox used by the dissident, Jiang Lijun.
The evidence from Yahoo helped to convict Mr. Jiang, who was sentenced to four years in prison for participating in "a plot to subvert the people's democratic dictatorship under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party."
In the earlier cases, Yahoo provided evidence that helped lead to an eight-year prison term for Li Zhi and a 10-year jail sentence for Shi Tao. Both were arrested after they criticized the Chinese authorities.
Yahoo said it was "unaware of this case" and that it was unclear how Chinese officials obtained the information about Mr. Jiang.
"Let us make clear that we condemn punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression, whether that punishment takes place in China or anywhere else in the world," Yahoo spokeswoman Mary Osako said.
At least 48 "cyber-dissidents" are currently in Chinese prisons for using the Internet to advocate democracy, according to Reporters Without Borders. And in many of these cases, Yahoo was involved in supplying evidence against the dissidents, the group says.
"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 that we have been defending," the group said yesterday.
Another group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, says three of the five journalists known to be jailed in China so far this year were targeted because of their Internet activity, and 15 of the 32 in prison in China last year were arrested for the same reason. China has jailed more writers and journalists than any other country, the committee says.
"Censorship in China is nothing new, but the growing co-operation of U.S. technology companies in China's repressive policies is," Ann Cooper, executive director of the committee, said this week.
In other controversial cases: Microsoft bowed to Beijing's pressure and shut down the blog of an outspoken Chinese blogger last year; telecommunication company Skype has acknowledged that its Chinese partner is censoring text messages on politically sensitive subjects; and Google's new search engine in China is blocking searches on subjects restricted by the government, including searches about Tibet or democracy.