September 6, 2005 6:10 PM PDT

Group says Yahoo helped jail Chinese journalist

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

A French media watchdog group claimed on Tuesday that Yahoo provided information that helped Chinese officials convict a journalist accused of leaking state secrets.

Shi Tao, a 37-year-old writer for the Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News), was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. He was convicted of sending to foreign Web sites a "top secret" government message that had been sent to his newspaper.

The international watchdog organization said recently translated court papers revealed that Yahoo Holdings in Hong Kong provided Chinese investigators with detailed information that helped them link Shi's personal e-mail account and a specific message containing the "state secret" to the IP address of his computer.

The state secret was a message to Shi's newspaper warning journalists of the dangers associated with dissidents returning to mark the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to the group. Shi admitted sending the e-mail but disputed whether it was a secret document.

"We already knew that Yahoo collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well," Reporters Without Borders said in its statement.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company responded to the charges in a written statement: "Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."

The harsh criticism comes as Yahoo and rivals Microsoft and Google are engaged in a high-stakes fight to expand into the lucrative Chinese marketplace.

Just last month, Yahoo paid $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in, which many consider to be the largest e-commerce company in China. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft are fighting in a Washington state court over the employment of Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft employee who helped the software giant build up its Chinese offices. Google hopes Lee will help expand its presence in China as well.


Correction: This article misidentified the two companies locked in a legal battle over a former Microsoft employee. The two companies are Microsoft and Google.


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<i>"Google and Yahoo are fighting in a Washington state court over the employment of Kai-Fu Lee, a former Microsoft employee who helped the software giant build up its Chinese offices."</i>

It is not Google vs Yahoo.. it is Microsoft vs Google.
Posted by itsnotyourbaby (8 comments )
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Re: Correction
Thanks for noting the error. The article has been corrected.
Posted by stevenmusil (82 comments )
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Were they served with the Chinese equivalent to a Court Order?
Who wrote this article?

it appears so slanted it would make Tower of Pisa stand upright.

equating Yahoo's actions to a criminal informing on it's gang wholly distorts the likely goings on of the situation. China has no bill of rights and so refusing WOULD make them a criminal. There is no Miranda and when arrested you are assumed to be guilty... often with no way to introduce facts that would disprove it.

I am 99.999% sure they are acting legally and almost as sure that inaction would have gotten them in trouble in China.

Was it a secret? Does it make the accused a criminal??? He was arrested and so I refer you to two paragraphs previous.

Do I need to paraphrase the saying? When in China do as the Chinese do!!!
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
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All that means... that you, like Yahoo, have the ethics of a drunken lizard. Making money is hardly an excuse to help tyrants remain that way.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
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Yes it does!
Hiding behind the facade of "culture" is either racist or appalingly elitist. Human rights mean exactly that, the rights of all humans, wherever they may live and to say that they don't apply in China because of "culture" is absurd. I for one am sick and tired of being told that I don't "understand" another culture and therefore shouldn't be allowed to judge it when it locks up and abuses its citizens because they diagree with a minority ruling elite. What happened in China had nothing to do with culture and everything to do with an oppressive regime and a compliant company that valued it's business deals more than human rights. End of story.
Posted by Bizarro (1 comment )
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