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Yahoo! settles lawsuit brought by China journalists for abetting torture

[JURIST] Yahoo! Inc. [corporate website] agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit [case materials; JURIST report] filed in US federal court 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 in violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Statute [texts]. The World Organization for Human Rights USA [advocacy website] filed the lawsuit on behalf of imprisoned Internet activists Wang Xiaoning [HRIC profile, PDF], Wang's wife Yu Ling, and journalist Shi Tao [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in April 2007. The parties did not disclose the terms of the settlement, but the advocacy group indicated [press release] Tuesday that some of the key issues in the settlement discussions included "Yahoo's efforts to secure the release of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning from prison, considerations regarding future law enforcement requests for identifying Internet user information, and efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of those who have been unlawfully detained as a result of Yahoo's actions."

Last week, Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan [written testimonies, PDF] defended [JURIST report] Yahoo's behavior in providing information to the Chinese government at a hearing [HCFA materials; JURIST report] before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs [official website], saying that the company could not ask local employees in China to refuse to comply with lawful government demands even if Yahoo disagreed with the Chinese action. AP has more.

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