Yahoo! 'gave e-mail details that helped jail Chinese writer'

Shi Tao, who worked for the daily business publication Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News) until he was arrested in November 2004, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last April, in a case underlining the stringent censorship regime which controls the Chinese media.

He was convicted of sending foreign-based websites the text of a "top secret" government message that had been sent to his newspaper. The text warned Chinese journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the text of the verdict on Mr Shi indicated that Yahoo! willingly handed over details which enabled security service investigators to link the journalist's personal e-mail account to to the anonymous message.

The US multinational Yahoo! allows the Chinese version of its search engine to be censored - it bars any mention of the Free Tibet campaign, for example - and critics say it is willing to stifle free speech in order to gain access to the lucrative Chinese market.

In 2003, Yahoo! invested $120m to purchase a Chinese-owned search engine. 3721.com. More recently, it acquired a large stake in the internet giant Alibaba in an operation that reportedly cost nearly a billion dollars.

"Yahoo! obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate," RSF said.

Mr Shi was sent to a prison in Changsha province, where he remains today, on the grounds that the information he made available was "Jue Mi" - a state secret. Mr Shi admitted he had sent a message from the authorities to foreign-based websites but denied it was compulsory to keep the document secret.

"Information supplied by Yahoo! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out," RSF said. "It is one thing to turn a blind eye to Chinese government abuses but it is quite another thing to collaborate."

Yahoo! Hong Kong is subject to the domestic legislation of the former British colony, which does not spell out the responsibilities of companies in sensitive situations such as this. But it is reportedly common practice for e-mail and internet service providers to transmit information to the police about their clients when demanded by a court order.

RSF said it had written to Yahoo! to alert it to the "ethical issues raised by its Chinese investments" but there had been no reply.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before