Yahoo Target of New Criticism in China
Activists are criticizing Yahoo anew after court documents apparently show information provided to Chinese officials by the portal led to the four-year-sentence of an Internet writer for "subversion." This latest revelation marks the third time Yahoo has been identified as the source for such jailings.
Jiang Lijun was jailed in 2003 after the company confirmed that Jiang was using an Internet e-mail account with activist Li Yibing. Previously, it had been discovered that Yahoo provided documents that led to an eight-year subversion sentence against Li Zhi in that same year, and a ten-year sentence for Shi Tao, who the government accused of leaking state secrets.
Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said that it had long suspected Yahoo was the source of documents and information used to arrest its clients. The company approached Yahoo last week, asking them to remove their e-mail servers from China.
According to the group, this is the only way to shield Chinese users from the crackdown by the government against journalists and pro-democracy activists. It also called on Yahoo to stop hiding behind Alibaba, it's partner in the country, to justify its actions.
"Whatever contract it has with this partner, the e-mail service is marketed as Yahoo," the organization said.
In Jiang's case, it is not completely clear if Yahoo was the source of the access code to break into the e-mail account, Reporters Without Borders concedes. Instead, The access code could have been provided by Li, who is suspected of being a government informer.
Jiang was accused of calling the Chinese government "autocratic," that he supported the creation of a Western-style government, and was planning an alternative political party. Additionally, the government accused him of planning a bomb threat to disrupt the Chinese Congress.
Yahoo could not be reached for comment. In the past, the company has defended its actions as necessary in order to comply with local laws.