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The wife of the Chinese dissident jailed with the help of Yahoo! is suing the company in the US courts.

The World Organisation for Human Rights is backing the case. Wang Xiaoning was given a 10 year sentence for postings he made to a Yahoo! group. Chinese authorities asked Yahoo! for information to identify the man.

Wang Xianoning's wife Yu Ling is bringing the case under the Alient Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act in the District Court for Northern California.

Yahoo! sent us the following statement:

Yahoo! is distressed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the internet. We call on the US Department of State to continue making this issue of free expression a priority in bilateral and multilateral forums with the Chinese, as well as through other tools of trade and diplomacy, in order to help secure the freedom of these dissidents.

We have not had time to review and analyse the lawsuit being filed today, and so it is premature for us to comment on the specifics of this case.

However, the concerns raised about the Chinese government compelling companies to follow Chinese law and disclose user information are not new. Companies doing business in China must comply with Chinese law or its local employees could be faced with civil and criminal penalties.

We believe deeply in human rights, and as a company built on openness, we strongly support free expression and privacy globally. Yahoo! has worked in different ways to address issues that arise at the intersection of human rights and technology. We've engaged formally with other information, communications, and technology companies, human rights organizations, the U.S. government, academic institutions, and socially responsible investors on initiatives to promote free expression and privacy. We're committed to remaining actively involved in exploring new approaches to protect and promote human rights globally.

Groups including Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders have criticised Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! for co-operating with Chinese authorities. ®

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