TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Yahoo Accused in Jailing of 2nd China Internet User

Yahoo Accused in Jailing of 2nd China Internet User

Lindsay Beck (
Thu, 9 Feb 2006 21:40:31 -0600

By Lindsay Beck

BEIJING (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc. provided evidence to Chinese
authorities that led to the imprisonment of an Internet writer,
lawyers and activists said on Thursday, the second such case involving
the U.S. Internet giant.

The latest storm over Western Internet companies in China comes just
weeks after Web search giant Google Inc. came under fire for saying it
would block politically sensitive terms on its new China site, bowing
to conditions set by Beijing.

Writer and veteran activist Liu Xiaobo said Yahoo had cooperated with
Chinese police in a case that led to the 2003 arrest of Li Zhi, who
was charged with subverting state power and sentenced to eight years
in prison after trying to join the dissident China Democracy Party.

Yahoo gave public security agents details of Li's registration as a
Yahoo user, Liu said in an article posted on U.S.-based Chinese-
language news portal Boxun, citing a defense statement from Li's

A spokeswoman for Yahoo said the company was looking into the matter.

"As in most jurisdictions, governments are not required to inform
service providers why they are seeking certain information and
typically do not do so," spokeswoman Mary Osako said.

"We would not know whether a demand for information focused on murder,
kidnapping or another crime," she said by phone from California,
adding Yahoo thought the Internet was a positive force in China.

But media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the argument that
Yahoo simply responds to requests from authorities did not hold water.

"Yahoo certainly knew it was helping to arrest political dissidents
and journalists, not just ordinary criminals," it said in a statement.


The group, along with the Committee to Protect Journalists, also
called on Yahoo to disclose information on all Internet journalists
and writers whose identities it has revealed to Chinese authorities.

The case is the latest in a string of examples that highlight the
friction between profits and principles for Internet companies doing
business in China, the world's number-two Internet market.

In September, Yahoo was accused of helping Chinese authorities
identify Shi Tao, who was sentenced last April to 10 years in prison
for leaking state secrets abroad.

Yahoo defended itself at the time, saying it had to abide by local

In December, Microsoft shut down a blog at MSN Spaces belonging to
outspoken blogger Michael Anti under Chinese government orders.

The government has also been pressuring mainstream Internet news Web
sites in what analysts say is a tightening of the atmosphere for

A notice issued by the Beijing Internet Propaganda Management Office
earlier this week listed media sites it said were reprinting
information that went beyond what was lawful.

"At present, do not use what they report on political news; especially
do not use them for frontpage news on the Internet," the notice

Its list included the Web sites of adventurous newspapers like
Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis News, but also the International
Herald Leader, which belongs to the state news agency Xinhua, and
regional dailies such as the Lanzhou Morning News.

Print editions have also been targeted.

Chen Jieren, the chief editor of the Beijing-based Public Interest
Times, was sacked on Wednesday over a report criticizing authorities,
the South China Morning Post said.

The case follows the dismissals of the editor of the outspoken Beijing
News and the closure of Freezing Point, the weekly supplement of the
China Youth Daily known for its critical commentaries and
investigative reporting.

(Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in Hong Kong and Guo Shipeng in

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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