11/07/2007, 00.00
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Yahoo!, moral “pigmy” for having aided Beijing in the arrest of journalist Shi Tao

Members of US Congress have harshly criticised the internet giants for having passed information to the Chinese government causing the arrest and sentencing of 10 journalists. Present at the hearing with Yahoo chiefs Shi Tao’s mother.

Washington (AsiaNews) - While “technologically and financially giants”, “morally you are pygmies”: this is how some American parliamentarians have described Yahoo! for having passed on information to the Chinese government regarding its users, causing the arrest of journalist Shi Tao, sentenced to 10 years in prison in April for having published “state secrets”.

Republican and Democrat delegates of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a three hour hearing with Yahoo!, chiefs Michael Callahan and Jerry Yang yesterday. Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan had already faced a hearing over the Shi Tao case in February 2006.  But the committee had expressed doubts regarding the veracity of his testimony.  Callahan in turn had claimed that he passed on the information to the Chinese government without knowing the reasons behind their request.  In reality, various Yahoo! employees showed that Callahan had received the requests from Beijing on “suspicion of the publishing of state secrets”.

Democrat Tom Lantos defined Callahan’s behaviour as “negligent and without excuse”.

Jerry Yang, Yahoo! chief executive apologised saying that their cooperation had always “supported human rights causes”.

Lantos, commission chairman, told Yahoo! “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies”. He also urged the two chiefs to “beg the forgiveness” of Shi Tao’s mother, present at the hearing.

Shi Tao was sentenced for having provided foreign journalists with a government order to Chinese media to note speak out on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 2004.

Last month the US Committee had proposed a law forbidding internet firms from cooperating with Chinese Authorities.  The law would allow private individuals to bring Yahoo!, Google and other cooperation’s who pass on information violating their privacy to court.

Beijing has many laws restricting the use of internet and censures all content regarding political and social problems.


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