Yahoo has settled with the families of two Chinese dissidents it helped put in a Chinese prison. Terms of the deal with the families of Shin Tao, Wang Xiaoning and Yu Ling weren't announced, according to Reuters.
"Plaintiffs and defendants hereby jointly stipulate to dismissal with prejudice of all claims made in this action, based on a private settlement understanding among the parties," the court filing stated.
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), who had led hearings Nov. 6 that were essentially a public tarring-and-feathering of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and general counsel Michael Callahan. Lantos had pushed Yahoo to settle the case and settle it generously. But Yahoo won no praise from Lantos for settling.
"It took a tongue-lashing from Congress before these high-tech titans did the right thing," the politician said, adding, "What a disgrace."
Yahoo said it is setting up a humanitarian relief fund for Chinese dissidents. The World Organization for Human Rights, which advanced the lawsuits, said Yahoo started negotiations right after the hearings. So no matter what you think about the propriety of those hearings, it's clear they had at least one good effect - and probably will have more. Yahoo may squirm but it will ultimately take instructions from Lantos on how to be a good international citizen.
"We are committed to making sure our actions match our values around the world," Yang said in a statement. "After meeting with the families, it was clear to me what we had to do to make this right for them, for Yahoo and for the future."
Somehow it all became clear. Not that there was anything stopping Yang from meeting with them before his public tongue-lashing. To be fair, it's only been about 100 days that Yang has been back in the CEO chair although he was certainly still involved with the company. One wonders how Terry Semel would have taken this Congressional spanking.
After Yahoo handed over account information to China, the three were arrested, tried and imprisoned in Chinese prisons. Wang and Shi are serving 10-year sentences for calling for democratic reforms. But here's the shocker:
The human rights advocacy group said that while the identities of only four individuals arrested as a result of Yahoo's alleged actions have been made public, "it is suspected that hundreds more have been similarly affected."