Lawsuit against Yahoo! filed in San Francisco on behalf of imprisoned Chinese dissident – Alleges Yahoo! provided identity to Chinese Government

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Yu Ling, wife of jailed dissident Wang Xiaoning, in San Francisco today to file lawsuit
Photo by John Han

By Julia Cheever

The wife of a jailed Chinese dissident said in San Francisco today she hopes her lawsuit against Yahoo! Inc. will cause corporations to stop giving Chinese authorities private e-mail information.

Yu Ling, 55, said through a translator, “I hope Yahoo and other foreign companies can stop these wrong activities.”

Yu said, “I hope they can have a written commitment.”

Yu filed a human rights lawsuit against Yahoo in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, alleging that the Sunnyvale Internet company’s release of e-mail information led to her husband’s arrest, imprisonment and torture.

Her husband, Wang Xiaoning, 57, is serving a 10-year sentence in a forced-labor prison in Beijing after being convicted of incitement to subvert state power.

The lawsuit claims Wang was arrested in 2002 after a Yahoo subsidiary provided information that linked him to e-mails he used for anonymous publication of articles advocating democratic reforms. It claims he has been beaten and mistreated while in prison.

Wang is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was prepared by lawyers from New York-based World Organization for Human Rights USA. The suit says that other imprisoned dissidents yet to be identified may be added as plaintiffs at a later time.

The lawsuit claims that Yahoo violated international human rights law as well as three U.S. laws, including the Torture Victims Protection Act.

Yahoo spokesman Jim Cullinan said on Wednesday that he could not comment specifically on the lawsuit, but said, “Yahoo is distressed that citizens in China are imprisoned for expressing opinions on the Internet.”

Cullinan said Yahoo calls on the U.S State Department to work for the dissidents’ release.

He said that companies doing business in China are required to comply with Chinese law requiring release of information or risk having their local employees face civil and criminal sanctions.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation, punitive damages and a requirement that Yahoo and its subsidiaries take action to secure the dissidents’ release.

Yu said she hopes the lawsuit will result in her husband’s release. She said if she wins any financial compensation, she will use part of it to help other victims.

By City News

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