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MS denies helping Beijing nail cyberdissident

So how was Night Wolf put down?

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Microsoft has denied helping Chinese authorities obtain evidence against a local journalist charged with sending "subversive" emails from a Hotmail account. Li Yuanlong, 45, is accused of sending opinion pieces that "fabricated, distorted and exaggerated facts, incited to subvert the state and sought to overthrow the socialist system" under the pseudonyms "Night Wolf" or "Wolf Howling in the Night", and using MSN Hotmail accounts.

The case has similarities with those of two cyberdissidents - Li Zhi and Shi Tao - who were imprisoned after Yahoo! provided evidence that helped Chinese authorities secure a conviction.

Microsoft disavows any suggestion that it might have helped Beijing to finger Li Yuanlong.

"Based on an internal review of the information available, we have no involvement in this matter," Brian Zhou, an official with Microsoft China's public relations agency, told Reuters. Zhou was unable to shed any light on how the Chinese authorities might have identified Yuanlong, who faces trial as early as this week, without the help of the software giant.

IT companies hoping to tap into the lucrative Chinese net market are coming under increase pressure from human rights groups not to comply with Beijing in censoring the internet. Last year, Microsoft was taken to task by critics for censoring its MSN blog service in China, preventing use of words such as "freedom" and "democracy" on some areas of its Chinese portal, along with a host of other politically sensitive terms such as "Taiwan independence" and "demonstration". Other IT giants, including Google and Cisco, have also been criticised over their business practices in China. ®

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