By CARRIE KIRBY
San Francisco Chronicle
February 12, 2006
Li Zhi, a former civil servant, began an eight-year sentence in 2003 after being convicted of "inciting subversion" by posting online comments criticizing local Chinese officials.
Yahoo's Hong Kong unit aided in his conviction by providing Chinese authorities with copies of e-mails Li had sent and information he provided when he registered with Yahoo, according to a document published Sunday on Boxun.com, a U.S. nonprofit group that posts Chinese news reports.
The document, which appears to be a pleading entered by Li's attorney in an appeal on his behalf in 2004, was submitted anonymously to Boxun.com, according to Wei Shi, editor of the Web site.
Reporters Without Borders, a Paris organization devoted to fighting censorship and ensuring safety for journalists, found out about the posting Wednesday and verified its accuracy through local sources, said Lucie Morillon, the group's Washington representative.
Yahoo said it was not aware of the case. However, in September, the company confirmed that it had provided information the Chinese government used to imprison another dissident, Shi Tao. That case was also initially made public by Reporters Without Borders.
That incident sparked debate over how U.S. technology companies should operate in countries where local laws suppress free speech. Yahoo isn't the only company to face such a dilemma. Microsoft bans politically sensitive words on blogs it hosts in China and last month shut down one politically outspoken blogger there. And Google incited protests earlier this month when it opened a Chinese search site that serves up censored results.
Yahoo's policy is to comply with local laws, said Mary Osako, a spokeswoman for the Internet search company.
"It's an issue that we take very seriously, and the facts surrounding the Shi Tao case are very distressing to us," Osako said.
Congress is scheduled to hold a hearing on the issue on Wednesday, in which both Yahoo and Reporters Without Borders will testify. Osako said Yahoo welcomes the government hearing.
"We ... believe this is a government-to-government issue" she said.
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