Photo caption: One of a number of protests by Visual Artists Guild calling for the release of eight prisoners of conscience. Shi Tao's photo is bottom row, third from left.

9/7/2013 Visual Artists Guild Press Release:
Shi Tao, a journalist in China who was sentenced in 2005 to ten years imprisonment for sending to a foreign web site instructions he received from the government about how journalists should act prior to the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, has been released. PEN International announced today.

Shi Tao served eight years and six months of his sentence.  

At the time, Shi Tao's case reverberated around the world as it clearly violated journalistic freedom. While Yahoo! claimed that China Yahoo! must follow China's law, it was in fact Hong Kong Yahoo! who gave out the IP address of Shi Tao as the one who sent out the information. Hong Kong has an ordinance on privacy. The information Hong Kong Yahoo! gave out was not ordered by Hong Kong's court as the ordinance required. In fact there was no police order at all.

In 2007, a hearing was held in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Commissioner on Privacy, Roderick B. Woo, was called to testify by the Hong Kong legislature. Visual Artists Guild was the only NGO to attend the hearing. Woo claimed that since Shi Tao's account was a commercial account, there was no violation of privacy, to which legislator Audrey Eu countered that the fact that Shi Tao was sentenced proved that such privacy had been violated. Hong Kong Yahoo! did not appear at the hearing and merely sent out a letter denying any violation on their part.

During a 2006 US Congressional hearing, Yahoo! general counsel Michael Callahan claimed that Yahoo! China had to cooperate with the government and further claimed that Yahoo! China had no knowledge of the purpose of China's request. A police document from China subsequently revealed that China had requested Hong Kong Yahoo! to provide the information and clearly stated the reason for such a request. Jerry Yang, then CEO of Yahoo!, apologized to Shi Tao's mother during the second US Congressional hearing held on the case in late 2007.

A suit was filed against Yahoo! to which Yahoo! settled out of court.

Visual Artists Guild celebrates Shi Tao's release and call on the government of China to release all prisoners of conscience.

Released by: Ann Lau, Chair, Visual Artists Guild