China releases poet dissident convicted with Yahoo’s help

POETIC INJUSTICE::Shi Tao was jailed for 10 years for e-mailing information about a state crackdown abroad, but it is not known why he was released early


Mon, Sep 09, 2013 - Page 5

Chinese authorities have released from jail dissident poet Shi Tao (師濤), who was convicted based on information provided by US Internet giant Yahoo, a rights group said yesterday.

Shi was freed 15 months before the end of his 10-year sentence for leaking state secrets after he sent an e-mail overseas containing information on a crackdown on democracy advocates, said PEN International, which promotes freedom of expression.

Information supplied by Yahoo was used to help convict him, the London-based group said in a statement.

The reason for Shi’s early release was not given.

PEN International quoted Shi as saying that he was treated “relatively well” in prison and had continued to write.

Shi, who also worked as a freelance journalist contributing to a newspaper in Changsha, could not be reached for comment.

Wang Xiaoning (王小寧), another Chinese dissident who was also convicted based on evidence provided by Yahoo, was released from prison last year after serving a 10-year term for subversion.

Yahoo executives who previously testified before the US Congress said they were legally obliged to divulge information about their users to the Chinese government and that they were unaware that it would be used to convict dissidents.

Yahoo later apologized and in 2007 paid compensation to Wang’s wife after the World Organization for Human Rights lodged a lawsuit against it.

Wang was jailed for distributing essays that advocated democratic reform and criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party rule using his Yahoo e-mail account.

Yahoo’s China arm shut down its e-mail service for users last month, reflecting the service’s diminishing profile in the country.

China Yahoo has been operated by the Alibaba Group since 2005, as part of a strategic partnership with Yahoo, which included the US firm buying a stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Alibaba is preparing for a massive stock offer, while also buying back the stake from Yahoo.