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Chinese dissident grassed by Yahoo nears release

Wang Xiaoning completes porridge on Friday

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A Chinese democracy advocate and journalist who was sent to jail for a decade after Yahoo! grassed him up to the authorities will be released this week.

Wang Xiaoning, who’s now 62 years-old, was jailed in 2003 for “incitement to subvert state power" after posting some essays critical of the Communist Party and praising democracy to Yahoo Groups.

The authorities then obtained from Yahoo vital information including his IP address, which made it far easier to trace the incriminating content back to Wang, the court revealed at the time.

Yahoo also came under fire a couple of years later when dissident poet Shi Tao was jailed for a decade after being accused of leaking state secrets to foreigners over email.

The cases caused widespread public outrage at the time, although Yahoo maintained that it was forced to comply with the government’s requests or face prosecution itself.

That didn’t stop then chairman of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Lantos referring to Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and general counsel Michael Callahan as a pair of “moral pygmies”.

Yahoo made matters worse by initially seeking to have a lawsuit filed by the Washington-based World Organization for Human Rights on behalf of several plaintiffs including Wang and Shi thrown out. The firm later graciously settled out of court.

Wang is now set for release on Friday, his wife Yu Ling told AFP.

"My goal is to get him home peacefully and avoid all trouble [from the authorities]," she added.

"His political rights have been deprived for two more years. I'm not really sure what this means, but they may continue to place restrictions on him." ®

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