China - Calling for lawsuit's dismissal, Yahoo! says it is "political and diplomatic issue"

    MONTREAL, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders insisted today
that Yahoo! was responsible for the conviction of Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao
and possibly other Chinese cyber-dissidents as well after the US Internet
company called on 27 August for the dismissal of the lawsuit brought against
it in the United States by relatives of these two imprisoned cyber-dissidents.
    "Wang and Shi were both convicted thanks to information supplied by
Yahoo! to the Chinese authorities," the press freedom organisation said. "It
is shocking that the company is denying its responsibility in this case and is
trying to evade punishment for actions that led to arbitrary convictions."
    The lawsuit brought on behalf of Wang and Shi before a US court accuses
of Yahoo! of providing the Chinese authorities with information from their
email accounts that led to their arrest and conviction.
    In its 27 August statement calling for the suit's dismissal, Yahoo! said:
"Free speech rights as we understand them in the United States are not the law
in China. Every sovereign nation has a right to regulate speech within its
borders." Yahoo! spokesperson Kelley Benander told the Los Angeles Times,
"this is a political and diplomatic issue, not a legal one."
    Morton H. Sklar, executive director of the Washington-based World
Organisation for Human Rights, said that, although it is clear that American
corporations are obliged to follow foreign laws, they also must abide by US
and international law.
    "Congress recognized this problem when they passed the Torture Victim
Protection Act," Sklar said. "They said explicitly, victims of torture should
have access to US courts to remedy the abuses they suffered. Where torture has
taken place, there is no question the US has jurisdiction."
    Yahoo! issued a statement in June in which it said : "Yahoo! is dismayed
that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political
views on the Internet." It reiterated its position that it was obliged to
comply with China's laws, but it added that it condemned "punishment of any
activity internationally recognised as free expression."

    Over 16 years ago, Reporters without Borders created its "Sponsorship
Programme" and called upon the international media to select and support an
imprisoned journalist. Currently, Shi Tao is sponsored by Miljvrapporten
(Sweden), Télé Bruxelles (Belgium)

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.

For further information:

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

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