Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

Mother of jailed Chinese journalist presses case in US

The mother of a Chinese journalist thrown in jail after US Internet giant Yahoo provided user information to the Chinese government arrived in Washington Thursday to campaign for her son’s release.

“There is a lot of international concern, it is not an isolated case now,” Gao Qinsheng told AFP after meeting her American lawyer and the Washington representative of Reporters Without Borders, a press freedom watchdog group that has highlighted the case.

Her son, Shi Tao, was convicted in 2005 of divulging state secrets after he posted a Chinese government order forbidding media organizations from marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising on the Internet.

Police identified him using information provided by Yahoo. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The US corporation defends its action on the grounds that it has to comply with China’s laws to operate there.

The case is gaining attention in the United States, especially after Shi’s name was added to a US lawsuit filed against Yahoo and its Hong Kong subsidiary by another Chinese cyberdissident, Wang Xiaoning, imprisoned in 2003 for subversion.

“I am very hopeful that justice will be done,” Gao said of the lawsuit filed about a month ago.

Attorney Morton Sklar, the executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA who filed the lawsuit, told AFP that a key objective of the case was to establish “corporate accountability for human rights abuses.”

“First and foremost, we want to get Shi and other detainees who have been in prison as a result of Yahoo’s actions out of jail as quickly as possible and to make clear that Yahoo was responsible for this and should be held accountable,” he said.

Sklar said there were four others his group knew and “probably hundreds more whose names we don’t know that have been subjected to exactly the same abuse.”

He also wants the court to compel Yahoo to stop the practice of giving out user information and to provide some compensation to those detained and their families for the problems they have experienced.

Yahoo said in a recent statement that companies doing business in China must comply with Chinese law or its local employees could be faced with civil and criminal penalties.

“Yahoo is distressed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet,” the statement said. “We believe deeply in human rights, and as a company built on openness, we strongly support free expression and privacy globally.”

This is “belated recognition” by Yahoo of the consequences of its cooperation with the Chinese authorities, charged Lucie Morillon, the Washington representative of Reporters Without Borders.

The Yahoo management “must now, as a matter of urgency, intercede with the Chinese authorities to obtain the release of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, and other people who have been imprisoned because of what it did,” she said.

Date posted: June 15, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 2446