Yahoo implicated in Chinese writer's imprisonment

Yahoo provided information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of writer Wang Xiaoning, a human rights group said this week.

Yahoo's Hong Kong subsidiary provided information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of writer Wang Xiaoning on charges of incitement to subvert state power, a human rights group said.

Wang was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in September 2003, due in part to writings distributed over the Internet. The case just recently came to light, according to Human Rights in China (HRIC), a New York-based group.

Among the evidence cited in the judgement against Wang is information from Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) stating that Wang's "aaabbbccc" Yahoo Group was set up using the mainland China-based email address bxoguh@yahoo.com.cn, HRIC said.

The Hong Kong subsidiary also confirmed that the email address ahgq@yahoo.com.cn, through which Wang sent messages to the Group, was a mainland China-based account, according to HRIC.

The judgment, from the Beijing Municipal First Intermediary People's Court, did not indicate whether Yahoo Holdings or Yahoo China specifically revealed Wang's identity to Chinese authorities, HRIC said. Yahoo China has been operated by Alibaba.com Corp. since last year, but was not at the time Wang was arrested or sentenced.

Spokespeople for Yahoo in China and Hong Kong did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. The company has said in the past that it must abide by local laws.

This is the second time in three months that Yahoo has been implicated in the conviction of a political writer in China. In February, Reporters Without Borders, a journalism watchdog group based in Paris, said Yahoo provided information about an e-mail address used by Li Zhi, a political activist and former government official convicted and sentenced to eight years. Police may have identified Li by using the e-mail address to find his IP address and then location, RSF said.

China regularly prosecutes political activists who distribute anti-government material via e-mail or on Web sites.

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Steven Schwankert

IDG News Service
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