Going against the grain of its fellow search engine giants, Yahoo has publically criticized China
for punishing citizens who expressing their political views on the Internet, reports the Associated Press
The announcement comes after the mother of Chinese reporter Shi Tao announced she was suing Yahoo for helping officials imprison her son.
"Yahoo is dismayed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet," the company said in the statement faxed to The Associated Press, which asked Yahoo to comment on Shi's lawsuit. The Internet company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also said it has told China that it condemns "punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression."
But, Yahoo said, it must comply with local laws. In other words, it will continue to turn over information that allows Chinese authorities to imprison journalists and dissidents.
Search engines are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to doing business in China. Yahoo and other serach engines must abide by Chinese law in order to stay in the burgeoning Chinese market. But does this include colluding with the strict limitations on freedom of expression by turning over information on journalists who reject those limitations? For Yahoo, the answer is yes.
Shi, an journalist for Contemporary Business News, was convicted of leaking state secrets when he circulated an email with his notes about a government circular about media restrictions.
The suit is being brought by the World Organization for Human Rights USA, and includes imprisoned dissident Wang Xiaoning and his wife, Yu Ling. They're accused of distributing pro-democracy writings authored via e-mail and through Yahoo Groups.
"I believe my son is innocent. We will fight until the end," said Shi's mother, Gao Qingsheng, who was recently in South South Africa last week to receive the annual Golden Pen of Freedom prize on behalf of her son.