Sunnyvale (CA) – Search engine giant Yahoo! has asked the US District Court for Northern California to dismiss a civil human rights lawsuit filed by the World Organization for Human Rights USA. The organization claims that Yahoo unlawfully gave Chinese officials private information which was then used to arrest, jail and torture two Chinese journalists Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning. Yahoo claims that it had no choice in releasing the information and that US courts are no place to argue over the laws of other sovereign nations.
Tao and Xianoning were arrested on November 2004 and Sept 2002 respectively and are now serving a 10-year prison sentence. Tao was a reporter and editor of the Contemporary Business News paper in China while Xiaoning was the author of several pro-democracy publications. The World Organization says both have been tortured
The World Organization is suing Yahoo!, Hong Kong-based Yahoo Holdings and Yahoo’s Chinese partner Alibaba.com, on behalf of the jailed pair and claims the company illegally and willingly provided private email records, copies of messages, email addresses and user IDs that were used to convict the duo. Yahoo argues that it did not willfully provide the information, adding that there is little connection between the arrests and the information given.
Yahoo also contends that the United States court system is not the correct venue for this type of lawsuit. A company spokesperson has publically stated that the company sympathizes with the plight of the journalists.