China frees journalist jailed after Yahoo disclosure
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A Chinese activist who was arrested nearly 10 years ago, when a politically sensitive email he sent was disclosed by US internet company Yahoo, has been released from prison, a writers' group has reported.
Authorities sentenced Shi Tao, a journalist and poet in the central city of Changsha, to a 10-year jail term in 2005 for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities". It was revealed that Yahoo had given the government access to Shi's email account, facilitating his arrest.
Shi, 45, was freed in the north-western city of Yinchuan on 23 August, 15 months before the end of his sentence, according to the Chinese affiliate of the Pen International writers' group.
In 2004, Shi used his Yahoo email account to send details to a New York-based human rights forum of a Beijing directive ordering journalists to play down the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. China prohibits open discussion of the crackdown, in which soldiers opened fire on unarmed pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds.
The case raised controversy about the conduct of US internet companies abroad. Activists and human rights groups criticised Yahoo for its complicity in China's suppression of dissenting voices. Yahoo said it was simply following local laws.
The US Congress launched an investigation into the case in 2007; at a hearing, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang apologised to Shi's family. "But soon after, the company only took minor steps to make amends for their actions, and stopped short of taking any decisive measures that would send a clear message to Chinese authorities that censorship would not be tolerated," said Amnesty International.
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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