Yahoo Sued for Aiding Chinese Authorities

Yahoo is finding itself in legal hot water over assisting Chinese authorities in identifying an Internet user accused of writing "subversive" messages about the country's government.

Yu Ling, wife of Wang Xiaoning, sued the company in US District Court for the Northern District of California, accusing Yahoo of violations of Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act.

The complaint says that both were "subjected to grave violations of some of the most universally recognized standards of international law ... for exercising their right of freedom of speech, association, and assembly, at the hands of Defendants through Chinese officials acting under color of law in the People's Republic of China."

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Human Rights USA filed the suit on behalf of Yu and Wang, who originally was arrested in September 2002 on subversion charges. Yu has since moved to San Francisco, while her husband remains in a Chinese prison.

Yahoo was first identified by the group as the source of the information in April of last year. This wasn't the first time Yahoo had done so; it was the fourth publicized case of the company handing over information to Chinese authorities.

While it was soundly criticized for doing so, Yahoo has defended itself by saying it was following the laws of the country. Its agreements to operate within China dictate that it must turn over information on those who may be using its services for unlawful purposes.

Immediate comment from Yahoo was not available, although it had expressed displeasure that China was jailing citizens for expressing their personal views.

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