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Yahoo Cited in Fourth Chinese Imprisonment

The New York-based watchdog group Human Rights in China said in a statement that Chinese writer Wang Xiaoning was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003 on charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” in part based on evidence provided to a Chinese court by Yahoo‘s Hong Kong subsidiary. Although more than two years old, the case marks the fourth time the U.S. Internet portal has been implicated in assisting Chinese authorities with imprisoning dissident Chinese writers.

According to the HRIC, allegations against Wang stemmed from electronic journals he published from 2000 to 2002 via email and Yahoo Groups from anonymous accounts in Hong Kong and mainland China. The journals (Democratic Reform Free Forum and Current Political Commentary) included articles by Wang under both his real name and pseudonyms as well as material from other writers promoting political reform in China and advocating a multi-party system. The Chinese court cited several phrases in these articles as being objectionable, and accused Wang of communicating via email with Liu Guokai, who heads who heads up the China Social Democratic Party. The Chinese government considered the CSDP a hostile organization.

Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) reportedly confirmed one of Wang’s China-based email addresses had been used to set up the Yahoo Group through which the journals were distributed, and confirmed a Yahoo account which distributed messages to the group was based in mainland China. The verdict does not state whether Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) provided specific information about Wang’s identity.

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