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China frees Yahoo! dissident after 10 years

August 31, 2012
BEIJING: A Chinese dissident convicted of subversion based on evidence provided by US Internet giant Yahoo! was released from prison on today after serving a 10-year term, his wife said.

Wang Xiaoning, 62, became a cause celebre after a Beijing court named Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) as the source of evidence that led to his 2003 conviction, in a public relations disaster for the company.

Wang was released from prison in the early hours of Friday “in a good mental and physical state”, his wife Yu Ling told AFP.

Yu said she had “stayed up half the night” in a police station waiting for her husband, after police visited her house to inform her of his release.

“I’m really happy my husband is home,” she told AFP, speaking by telephone from the couple’s home in Beijing, where she said her husband was resting after his release.

She added that Wang should never have served a prison sentence for distributing essays that advocated democratic reform and criticised China’s one-party Communist rule using his Yahoo! email account.

“He didn’t commit any crime,” Yu said. “He just expressed his own opinions.”

Yahoo! executives who testified before US Congress said they were legally obliged to divulge information about their users to the Chinese government and that they were unaware it would be used to convict dissidents.

The company also provided evidence in the case of poet and activist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years for leaking state secrets in 2005 after he sent an email overseas containing information on a crackdown on democracy advocates.

Yahoo! later apologised and in 2007 paid compensation to Wang’s wife after the World Organization for Human Rights lodged a lawsuit that also named Shi.

Chinese authorities will suspend Wang’s political rights for two more years and “may continue to place restrictions” on him, Yu said, without giving specifics. Wang was not available for interview.

Yu refused to say how much money Yahoo! paid in compensation, but said she was impressed with the US Congress and court system during her visit to the United States in 2007 as part of the lawsuit.



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