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Jailed Chinese activist sues Yahoo! for abetting torture

[JURIST] An incarcerated Chinese activist filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday against Yahoo! Inc. [corporate website], alleging that the Internet giant aided and abetted human rights violations committed by the Chinese government by providing Chinese officials with information, including e-mail records and user ID numbers, that helped them to identify pro-democracy activists. Imprisoned Internet activist Wang Xiaoning brought the suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act [text] and the Alien Tort Statute [text], which states that "the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." Wang alleges that China violated international law including:

prohibitions against torture, cruel, inhuman, or other degrading treatment or punishment, and arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, for exercising their right of freedom of speech, association, and assembly, at the hands of Defendants through Chinese officials acting under color of law in the People's Republic of China.
The World Organization for Human Rights USA [advocacy website] filed the lawsuit on Wang's behalf in San Francisco's US District Court for the Northern District of California.

A 2006 Amnesty International report criticized [JURIST report] Yahoo! and other Internet companies for so-called "Internet oppression", alleging that Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google have been complicit in efforts by the Chinese government to silence government critics in violation of stated corporate policies. Amnesty urged the companies to petition the Chinese government for the release of "cyber-dissidents." The Washington Post has more.

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