UNITED STATES / CHINA Disappointing testimony to US congressional hearing by Yahoo! executives



    MONTREAL, Nov. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is disappointed
by yesterday's testimony by Yahoo! chief executive Jerry Yang and the
company's general counsel, Michael Callahan, to a US House of Representatives
foreign affairs committee hearing on Callahan's earlier controversial
statements to Congress about the company's involvement in the arrest of
Chinese journalist Shi Tao in 2005. The hearing was attended by Gao Qinshen,
Shi's mother, and Yu Ling, the wife of Wang Xiaoning, a cyber-dissident
arrested in 2003 who, like Shi, was convicted on information provided by
Yahoo!.
    "We take note of the apologies that Yahoo!'s executives gave to the
families of Shi and Wang, but we regret that they did not announce any
concrete measures to avoid being involved in the arrest of Internet users and
dissidents again," Reporters Without Borders said.
    "Yang and Callahan failed to seize the opportunity they were offered to
demonstrate transparency, and they were not convincing about the reasons for
their lie in February 2006," the press freedom organisation added. "A
humanitarian gesture in favour of the families of the imprisoned
cyber-dissidents is welcome, but Yahoo! has not succeeded in dispelling all
the doubts about its determination to stop collaborating with the Chinese
security services."
    Yesterday's hearing highlighted the need for the US congress to quickly
adopt a proposed Global Online Freedom Act, which has just been approved by
the House foreign affairs committee at the initiative of representative
Christopher Smith. When Callahan testified to a congressional hearing in
February 2006, he claimed that Yahoo! knew nothing about the nature of the
Chinese government's investigation into Shi and was just complying with the
law when it handed over information. But the Dui Hua Foundation subsequently
demonstrated that Yahoo! China had been notified of the charges against Shi in
April 2004.
    For the first time, Yahoo!'s executives met after yesterday's hearing
with the relatives of Shi and Wang, telling them that they wanted to obtain
the cyber-dissidents' release. Pressed by several representatives including
foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Lantos, who voiced amazement that
Yahoo! still had not contacted the cyber-dissidents' families, Yang promised
during the hearing that the company would examine the possibility of providing
them with humanitarian assistance.
    Several representatives urged Yahoo! to use its commercial influence to
bring about "positive change" in online free expression in China.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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