|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.|
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
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