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China Frees Writer Jailed After Yahoo! Handed Over Information

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- China released a writer convicted of leaking state secrets who was sentenced to 10 years in jail after Yahoo! Inc. provided his e-mail records to authorities.

Shi Tao was released 15 months before the end of his sentence on Aug. 23, the writers’ group PEN International said in a statement on its website, without giving a reason. He was arrested in November 2004 and in April 2005 was sentenced for “leaking state secrets abroad,” PEN said.

The case highlighted the dilemma over privacy faced by global technology companies doing business in China and led Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s chief executive at the time, to apologize while testifying before the U.S. Congress in 2007. Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo sold its Chinese operations to Alibaba.com in 2005.

Shi’s prosecution was based on an e-mail he sent to the editor of a New York-based website detailing media restrictions imposed in China before an anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, PEN said. Information supplied by Yahoo was used to convict him, it said.

Shi told Voice of America’s Chinese service that it wasn’t convenient to talk to the media, especially foreign media, according to a story on its website today.

Yahoo shut its China e-mail service last month after giving users four months starting in April to migrate their accounts. That decision was part of last year’s agreement by Alibaba to buy back Yahoo’s stake in the Chinese e-commerce company.

Yahoo spokeswoman Sara Gorman didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent outside U.S. working hours seeking comment.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Henry Sanderson in Beijing at hsanderson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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