Yahoo Criticized in Case of Jailed Dissident
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Two top Yahoo officials on Tuesday defended their company's role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist but ran into withering criticism from
lawmakers who accused them of complicity with an oppressive Communist regime. United States
''While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,'' Tom Lantos, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said angrily after hearing from the two executives, Jerry Yang, the chief executive, and Michael J. Callahan, the general counsel.
The journalist Shi Tao was sent to jail for 10 years for engaging in pro-democracy efforts deemed subversive after Yahoo turned over information about his online activities as requested by Chinese authorities.
Mr. Lantos angrily urged the two men to apologize to the journalist's mother, who was sitting directly behind them.
Mr. Yang and Mr. Callahan turned around from the witness table and bowed from their seats to Mr. Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, who bowed in return and then began to weep.
The committee is investigating statements Mr. Callahan made at a Congressional hearing early last year. He said then that Yahoo had no information about the nature of the Chinese government's investigation of Mr. Shi when the company turned over information about him in 2004.
Mr. Callahan has since acknowledged that Yahoo officials had received a subpoenalike document that referred to suspected ''illegal provision of state secrets'' -- a common charge against political dissidents.
Last week Mr. Callahan issued a statement saying that he had learned the details of the document months after his testimony in February 2006 and that he regretted not alerting the committee to it once he knew about it.
He reiterated that regret Tuesday and contended that Yahoo employees in
had little choice but to comply with the government's demands. China
''I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad,'' Mr. Callahan said.
Mr. Callahan could not say whether there were outstanding demands from the Chinese government for information from Yahoo, or whether Yahoo would react the same today to a demand for information from the Chinese government.
He did say that in going into future markets, like
, Yahoo would aim to find a way to avoid turning over to the government information on citizens' online activities. Vietnam
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Published: November 7, 2007
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company