Washington, DC – Chairman Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced today that committee staff will investigate whether officials from the Internet company Yahoo! misrepresented the company’s role in a human rights case in China that sent a journalist to jail for a decade.
“It is bad enough that a wealthy American company would willingly supply Chinese police the means to hunt a man down for shedding light on repression in China,” said Lantos, who also co-chairs the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. “Covering up such a despicable practice when Congress seeks an explanation is a serious offense. For a firm engaged in the information industry, Yahoo! sure has a lot of secrecy to answer for. We expect to learn the truth, and to hold the company to account.”
At a February 2006 subcommittee hearing on limits to freedom on the Internet in China, Lantos questioned Yahoo! senior vice president and general counsel Michael Callahan about the case of Shi Tao. A reporter and editor for a Chinese newspaper, Shi was arrested in his home after posting material about a government crackdown on media and democracy activists an overseas Web site, Democracy Forum, under a pseudonym. Police in Beijing found him after Yahoo! provided information about his e-mail account, including his IP address, log-on history and the contents of his e-mail over several weeks.
Callahan said at the hearing that when the company divulged this identifying material, “we had no information about the nature of the investigation.” Recently the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation released documents showing that police had written Yahoo! specifying that they sought evidence about Shi in a case of suspected “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities,” a charge frequently invoked against political dissidents in China.
Sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment for divulging state secrets abroad, Shi has appealed the verdict to the Hunan Higher People’s court, arguing that he was unaware that the information was classified and that police used improper procedures in the investigation and arrest. Shi is also seeking damages in U.S. federal court against Yahoo! and its Hong Kong-based subsidiary.
Further information is available at https://www.duihua.org/2007/07/police-document-sheds-additional-light.html