Yahoo! accused of helping China convict journalist

A press freedom organisation has accused Yahoo! of helping Chinese police secure the conviction of a journalist for leaking state secrets by tracing an Email to his computer.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said: "Yahoo! appears to be willing to go to any lengths to gain shares of the Chinese market... It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government's abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate."

Yahoo! supplied no comment on the matter in widespread coverage by news organisations . Reporters Without Borders said Yahoo! has not responded to several letters about "ethical issues concerning its Chinese investments".

Yahoo! is among a pack of Western media companies that have had to play by the Chinese government's rules in order to access the Chinese market.

Its search engine, together with Google and MSN, censor websites that contain material that the Chinese government deems is politically sensitive, such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre when hundreds of pro-democracy protestors were killed by government troops.

Yahoo! paid £550m for 40% of Chinese e-commerce site last month. In 2003, it invested in Chinese search engine

Reporters Without Borders claimed that the text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao shows that Yahoo! Holdings Hong Kong provided Chinese authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him.

The journalist worked for the daily business newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao.

He was convicted on April 30 of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal message which the authorities had sent to his newspaper warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

His sentence was 10 years in prison.

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