Chinese dissident jailed on Yahoo evidence freed

Wang Xiaoning, whose conviction was supported by information from US internet firm, released after completing his term
Yahoo HQ in Sunnyvale, California
Yahoo drew strong condemnation in the US for co-operating with Chinese authorities in prosecuting dissidents. Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP
A Chinese dissident imprisoned for 10 years for subversion, whose conviction was supported by evidence from Yahoo, was released early on Friday after completing his term, his wife said.
The US internet company drew strong condemnation from American politicians and rights advocates for co-operating with Chinese authorities in prosecuting dissidents and a well-known journalist.
The company later apologised and settled a lawsuit with the families involved for an undisclosed amount.
Wang Xiaoning's wife, Yu Ling, said in a telephone interview that her husband had been released before dawn on Friday by the Beijing No 2 prison. She had been told earlier she could meet Wang at the prison gate but he was released several hours early and taken to their home.
Yu said the conditions of his release meant he could not speak to the media. She said Wang appeared to be in good health but would have a medical check soon.
"We're happy that the family is together again," Yu said. The couple has a son.
Wang was detained in September 2002 and later sentenced for "incitement to subvert state power", a vaguely defined charge used frequently to punish political critics. Wang distributed pro-democracy writings by email and through Yahoo groups.
A former engineer in China's weapons industry, Wang had been detained previously for his political activities following the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Rights groups said passages from writings cited at his trial in 2003 included: "Without a multiparty system, free elections and separation of powers, any political reform is fraudulent."
A lawsuit filed by Wang and others in the US showed that Yahoo's wholly owned subsidiary based in Hong Kong gave police information linking Wang to his anonymous emails and other political writings he posted online.
Yahoo could not immediately be reached for comment about his release.
The case sparked anger about internet companies co-operating with governments that deny freedom of speech and crack down on journalists. It has been the subject of congressional hearings in the US, where politicians accused the company of collaborating with an oppressive regime.


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