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Yahoo in Hong Kong accused of aiding China

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Hong Kong lawmaker said Friday he has complained to a government privacy commission that Yahoo Inc.'s local affiliate provided evidence to convict a Chinese reporter sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets.

Legislator Albert Ho released a document that he said was a copy of the criminal verdict for the reporter, Shi Tao, from a court in the central Chinese province of Hunan.

"Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided materials that confirmed the user's information," the document said.

The document appeared to contradict early comments by Yahoo, which said evidence used to convict the journalist was provided by Yahoo's unit in China to comply with the mainland's laws.

Those standards are more restrictive than those in Hong Kong, a former British colony that has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula since it returned to China in 1997. The territory prides itself on having an independent rule of law and international business and privacy standards.

In releasing the documents Friday, Ho said: "It's very clear from the judgment that Yahoo Hong Kong provided the details. They're a Hong Kong company. Why do they have to comply with Chinese requests (for information)? This is the biggest question."

Yahoo representatives in Sunnyvale, Calif., did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Shi Tao, a former writer for the financial publication Contemporary Business News, was sentenced under state secrecy laws to 10 years in prison in 2005 for allegedly providing state secrets to foreigners.

His conviction stemmed from an e-mail he sent containing his notes on a government circular that spelled out restrictions on the media.

Ho and Shi Tao's friend Zhang Yu said they had submitted a complaint against Yahoo Hong Kong to the territory's privacy watchdog, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.

The complaint said Yahoo Hong Kong "did not notify Shi Tao or ask for his permission" before it provided his personal information to Chinese authorities.

The Privacy Commissioner's office confirmed that it was investigating the case.