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Yahoo! implicated in third cyber-dissident trial; US company's collaboration with Chinese courts highlighted in Jiang Lijun case

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the verdict in the case of Jiang Lijun, sentenced to four years in prison in November 2003 for his online pro-democracy articles, showing that Yahoo! helped Chinese police to identify him.

It is the third such case, following those of Shi Tao and Li Zhi, proving the implication of the American Internet company.

The verdict, made available and translated into English by the human rights group, the Dui Hua Foundation, can be downloaded from Reporters Without Borders' website.

"Little by little we are piecing together the evidence for what we have long suspected, that Yahoo! is implicated in the arrest of most of the people that we have been defending," the press freedom organisation said.

"Last week we went to the headquarters of the company to urge them to end this collaboration. We called on them to remove their email servers from China, because it is the only way to avoid taking part in the current crackdown against journalists and democrats."

"We hope this Internet giant will not, as it has each time it has been challenged previously, hide behind its local partner, Alibaba, to justify its behaviour. Whatever contract it has with this partner, the email service is marketed as Yahoo!" the organisation said.

According to the verdict, Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) confirmed that the email account ZYMZd2002 had been used jointly by Jiang Lijun and another pro-democracy activist, Li Yibing.

In a paragraph headed "physical and written evidence", it says that a "declaration" dated 25 September 2002 had been found in the email draft folder, without specifying if this information had been provided by the California-based company. The access code could also have been provided by Li Yibing, who is suspected of having been a police informer in the case.

Jiang Lijun, 40, was sentenced to four years in prison for "subversion" on 18 November 2003, accused of seeking to use "violent means" to impose democracy. Police believed him to be the leader of a small group of cyber-dissidents, which included the young Internet-user* Liu Di. She was imprisoned between November 2002 and November 2003.

The verdict indicated that Jiang Lijun wrote that the Chinese regime was "autocratic", that he favoured a "so-called western-style democracy" and planned to set up a political party. It also said that he planned to disrupt the 16th Communist Party Congress by phoning the police with a false bomb alert.

A Reporters Without Borders' team went to Yahoo! headquarters in California on 7 April 2006 to show them videotape in which the brother of Li Zhi and the lawyer for Shi Tao exposed the US firm's collaboration with the Chinese police (See:http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=16999).

The organisation's activists previously approached Yahoo! staff leaving their offices to show them the tapes. They then tried to meet the firm's executives, who at first refused to see them and threatened to call the police. They finally agreed to a meeting, on 10 April, but this encounter did not produce any concrete results.

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