Privacy Police

Chinese Dissident, Convicted on Evidence from Yahoo, Freed From Prison After 10 Years

Wang Xiaoning is finally free
 Chinese Dissident, Convicted on Evidence from Yahoo, Freed From Prison After 10 Years

(Photo: Daily Mail)

Way back in 2002, a Chinese political dissident named Wang Xiaoning was arrested for publishing pro-democracy materials using his Yahoo account. When the Chinese government went to build a case against Mr. Wang, Yahoo rolled over like a trained dog, coughing up Mr. Wang’s records, which China then used to convict him of “subversion.” It was all very Orwellian. But, finally some good news: Mr. Wang has finally been freed.

Yahoo was widely panned for cooperating with the Chinese government, and Mr. Wang’s family–along with the families of several other Chinese activists–eventually sued the company. Of course, Yahoo chose to settle out of court, paying the families an undisclosed sum.

Now, after serving 10 years in prison, Mr. Wang is free. According to The New York Times:

Wang Xiaoning, a Chinese political dissident who was convicted of state subversion based on evidence provided by the Internet company Yahoo, was released from prison on Friday, after serving a 10-year sentence.

Mr. Wang’s wife, Yu Ling, said by telephone that her husband had returned to their Beijing home in the early morning.

“He was very excited to come out and to be able to see us,” she said on Friday afternoon. “He didn’t sleep the entire night, until just now.”

News of Mr. Wang’s freedom opens old wounds over the responsibility internet companies have to protect their users while also following international laws. The news is especially interesting considering the amount of information that internet and telecom companies have been guilty of providing to law enforcement in recent years.

Sadly, another dissident convicted on evidence from Yahoo–Shi Tao–is still in prison. Wonder if Marissa Mayer has any foreign diplomat skills on that résumé.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com