Chinese journalist jailed for eight years for leaking state secrets after Yahoo disclosed details of his emails is released

Yahoo was widely criticised for disclosing details of Shi's emails to the Chinese government leading to his conviction

A Chinese journalist and poet jailed for eight years for leaking state secrets after Yahoo disclosed details of his emails has been released, a writer's group has said.

Shi Tao was released on August 23, 15 months before the end of his sentence, the Independent Chinese Pen Centre said in a statement today. There was no indication as to why he was released early.

Shi was arrested in 2004 and sent to prison the following year after he sent details of a government memo about restrictions on news coverage of the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary to a human rights forum in the US.

A statement from the writer's group didn't say where Mr Shi went following his release or why he had been released early.

Patrick Poon, Hong Kong-based director of the Chinese PEN Center told the Wall Street Journal that the writer "needed time to adjust".

The group said that Shi "was treated relatively well in prison during the last few years, and wrote many poems, including 'Song of October' written from prison after he learned that Liu Xiaobo had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize".

Yahoo was widely criticised for disclosing details of Shi's emails to the Chinese government leading to his conviction.

The California based company said at the time it was obligated to comply with Chinese government demands. Despite this at a US congressional hearing in November, 2007, the company's chief executive, Jerry Yang, apologised to Shi's family.

Shortly after that, Yahoo settled lawsuits brought by the families of Shi and Wang Xiaoning, a dissident who was imprisoned on subversion charges after the company's Hong Kong affiliate disclosed contents of his email account to Chinese authorities.

Yahoo turned over control of its email and other services in China to a local partner, Alibaba Group, in 2005. The US company bought a 40% stake in Alibaba.

Yahoo closed its email service in China last month and recommended users switch to a service run by Alibaba.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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