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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Yahoo Settles With Jailed Chinese Dissidents

Posted by Author on November 14, 2007

By John Letzing, MarketWatch, Nov 13, 2007-

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday settled a lawsuit filed by Chinese dissidents and their family members who accused the Internet company of complicity in their jailing, following a humiliating episode on Capitol Hill.

Yahoo had been sued earlier this year in California by Wang Xiaoning, Shi Tao and Yu Ling for allegedly providing Chinese authorities with personal information that led to Shi and Wang’s imprisonment and torture.

In a joint stipulation of dismissal filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Yahoo and the plaintiffs say they have reached a “private settlement understanding,” though they disclosed no details. Yahoo agreed to bear the dissidents’ legal costs, according to the filing.

In a prepared statement, Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang said that Yahoo will now provide “financial, humanitarian and legal support” to the jailed dissidents’ families. Separately, Yang said Yahoo is also now establishing a fund “to provide support to other political dissidents and their families.”

Morton Sklar, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The settlement follows a dramatic appearance by Yang before a House committee earlier this month. Yang had been called to testify about his company’s responsibility for the jailing of Shi, a journalist who had used Yahoo services to post messages to a pro-democracy Web site.

In previous testimony in 2006, Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan had said Yahoo had no understanding of why Chinese authorities were interested in Shi, when the company was asked to provide information about him.

Evidence later published by the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, however, indicated that Yahoo was aware that the authorities were investigating Shi’s part in the sharing of “state secrets.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., grilled Yang at the committee hearing earlier this month about what his company has done to help Shi’s family, following his jailing.

Yang apologized to Shi’s family at the hearing, and soon after met personally with family members.

“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,” Yang said in his statement Tuesday.

It remains unclear, however, how other Internet companies aiming to compete in the Chinese market plan to prevent similar incidents. Yahoo has claimed that it was merely following local laws by handing user information to Chinese authorities, raising the possibility that others may face similar requests.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Amnesty International director of business and human rights Amy O’Meara said that, “Compensation may help bring a small measure of justice to the families of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, but it does not fix the underlying problem.”

“Band-Aid fixes are not going to stop a case like this from happening again,” O’Meara said.

John Letzing is a MarketWatch reporter based in San Francisco.

Original report from MarketWatch

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