New York, NY, November 15, 2007—PEN American Center today welcomed the news that Yahoo has settled a lawsuit brought by families of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning, two Chinese cyber-dissidents who were jailed for their writings after Yahoo revealed their identities to the Chinese government. The settlement was announced six days after Yahoo executives were summoned to testify before a House committee on misleading statements Yahoo had previously made to Congress about its role in the matter. PEN called the settlement an important gesture, but expressed concerned for the health and well-being of the two writers, who remain in Chinese prisons, and urged the company to work tirelessly for their release.

“Money is certainly helpful for the families of these writers imprisoned for expressing their views online, but this should not be the end of the matter for Yahoo,” said Larry Siems, Director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning continue to languish in Chinese prisons because Yahoo cooperated with Chinese authorities who were intent on violating the free expression rights of its citizens. The company must now do everything in its power to make this right by working to free those whose imprisonment it facilitated, and it must make clear to Chinese authorities that Yahoo will not participate in similar rights violations in the future.”

In April 2004, China demanded that Yahoo turn over the personal information of Shi Tao, whom they accused of “illegally divulging state secrets abroad” for publishing information on media control plans in advance of the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yahoo’s disclosure of user information, including email content, led to his arrest and imprisonment for a ten-year term. Shi is reportedly in poor health due to prison conditions, and is not due for release until November 2014. Shi’s co-defendant Wang Xiaoning was sentenced to ten years imprisonment on subversion charges. Yahoo supplied information on two other known cases, Jiang Lijun and Li Zhi. Both were charged with subversion, and were sentenced to four and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively. Like Shi Tao, Wang Xiaoning, Jiang Lijun, and Li Zhi are still in prison.

For more information on Shi Tao and PEN’s work to free another 45 writers who are currently imprisoned in China, please click here.

Larry Siems, (212) 334-1660 ext. 105