United States/China - Yahoo! settles lawsuit by families of jailed Chinese cyber-dissidents



    MONTREAL, Nov. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today hailed
yesterday's announcement that the US Internet company Yahoo! has settled a
Californian lawsuit brought by the families of journalist Shi Tao and
pro-democracy activist and blogger Wang Xiaoning, who were convicted and
imprisoned on information which Yahoo! gave the Chinese authorities.
    The announcement came just six days after Yahoo! chief executive officer
Jerry Yang and the company's vice-president and senior counsel, Michael
Callahan, publicly apologized to the families during a US congressional
hearing.
    "This is a real relief for the families," Reporters Without Borders said.
"The 6 November congressional hearing lent a human face to the tragedy they
have been living for years. But this settlement should not end the debate
about the involvement that companies such as Yahoo! may have in revealing
personal data to the authorities in countries such as China.
    The press freedom organisation added: "We hail the efforts of the lawyers
of the World Organisation for Human Rights USA (WOHR USA) and the chairman of
the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos, and the congressman Chris
Smith. What they did was decisive in ensuring that justice was rendered to the
families of Shi and Wang. We reiterate our call for the release of Shi and
Wang and of Li Zhi."
    It is suspected that at least four Chinese cyber-dissidents have been
arrested since 2002 as a result of information which Yahoo! provided to the
Chinese authorities. Both Shi and Wang are serving 10-year prison sentences
because of the supposedly "subversive" content they posted or exchanged
online. Shi was convicted in 2005. Wang was convicted in 2003.
    Yang announced that he is going to create a human rights fund dedicated
to helping imprisoned cyber-dissidents and their families.
    "After meeting with the families, it was clear to me what we had to do to
make this right for them, for Yahoo! and for the future," Yang said. "Yahoo!
was founded on the idea that the free exchange of information can
fundamentally change how people lead their lives, conduct their business and
interact with their governments."
    "Yahoo! should extend this aid to the families of Li Zhi and Jiang Lijun
and to the families of other cyber-dissidents who have been the victims of
Yahoo!'s cooperation with the Chinese authorities," Reporters Without Borders
added.




For further information:

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

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