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Chinese reporter targets Yahoo! from prison cell

Court! action! against! collusion! with! Beijing!

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The mother of Shi Tao, the Chinese journalist and democracy campaigner who was jailed after Yahoo! handed over server logs to authorities, has joined a US court action against the internet firm.

Shi Tao was locked up for 10 years in 2005 when Beijing accused him of leaking state secrets to foreigners. Yahoo! provided crucial data which damned him, later claiming it would have faced prosecution itself if it had refused to cooperate.

Yahoo!'s UK boss Glen Drury told The Register that he would have been targeted anyway, and the firm's involvment in the arrest garnered it more worldwide media attention than it would have merited otherwise.

Shi's challenge has been added to an earlier suit brought by the World Organisation for Human Rights in a US District Court against Yahoo! Inc, its subsidiary in Hong Kong, and Alibaba.com, which runs Yahoo! China. Wang Xiaoning, who was jailed in 2003 for "incitement to subvert state power" through his postings on Yahoo! Groups, is also represented on the plaintiff roster.

At a press conference in Hong Kong, AP reports that Shi's mother Gao Qingsheng said: "I believe my son is innocent. We will fight until the end. We sue Yahoo...not for Shi Tao, but to avoid any more innocent people from being prosecuted in the future."

Yahoo! has denied its Hong Kong tentacle played any part in his arrest, but Albert Ho, a lawmaker in the former British protectorate, is pursuing it for privacy violations.

In related news, Yahoo! shareholders have a chance to voice their objections to collusion with tyrannical governments tomorrow at the firm's AGM.

A resolution brought by New York pension funds calls on the board to institute better policies on freedom of speech and resist data mining by governments.

More info here from the New York Comptroller. An identical move was rejected at Google's AGM in May. ®

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