Yahoo Is Sued for Failing to Keep 2007 China Dissident PromisesBy
Company pledged aid after giving data that led to arrests
Dissidents say firm depleted humanitarian relief fund
Yahoo! Inc. failed to keep financial and humanitarian commitments made a decade ago after it admitted helping the Chinese government find dissidents who were later jailed, according to a lawsuit against the web company.
The suit brought by seven previously imprisoned Chinese dissidents and the wife of an eighth seeks to enforce promises made when the Sunnyvale, California-based company settled a 2007 lawsuit in San Francisco federal court. The complaint was filed Tuesday in federal court in court in Washington, D.C.
Yahoo had pledged to give support -- legal and otherwise -- to the families of two men jailed as a result of the company sharing their email address and other information with Chinese authorities. The company also said it would create a relief fund for others imprisoned for expressing their views online.
That fund was allegedly ravaged by self-dealing, according to the revised complaint and a statement issued by the law firm that filed it.
“Of the $17.3 million that funded the Yahoo Human Rights Trust, more than $13 million, including $2.6 million for a Washington, D.C. townhouse, has been illegally diverted for expenditures that have nothing to do with providing humanitarian assistance,” according to a statement issued by Washington-based Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.
Yahoo has declined to comment on the allegations.
New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. has agreed to acquire Yahoo for $4.48 billion, which was revised lower by $350 million after revelations of security breaches at the web company. The deal is expected to close during the second quarter.
The case is He v. Yahoo!, 17-cv-635, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
— With assistance by Brian Womack