Prisoner of the Month February 2006 Shi Tao

Shi TaoOf all countries, China holds the greatest number of cyber-dissidents in prison, with 31 currently detained serving lengthy prison terms. Among them is poet, freelance journalist and writer Shi Tao. His case is particularly notable for the fact that information provided by Internet Service Provider Yahoo! led to his conviction.

Shi Tao was arrested on 24 November 2004 after he emailed his notes describing the propaganda ministry’s instructions to the media about coverage of the anniversary of the crackdown at Tianmen Square. He was subsequently charged with “leaking state secrets” and on 27 April 2005 sentenced to ten years in prison.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, which advocates for the release of political prisoners in China, has translated the court’s verdict into English. According to this translation, the verdict reveals that Yahoo! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd provided Chinese police with detailed information that enabled them to link Shi Tao’s personal email account and the specific message containing the alleged ‘state secret’ to the address of his computer. PEN is alarmed that Yahoo! appears to have been complicit in the persecution of Shi Tao and thereby disregarding his right to freedom of expression.

English PEN believes Shi Tao is being held in contravention of his right to free expression as guaranteed under Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Please write appeals calling for his immediate and unconditional release to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China

State Council

Beijing 100020

P. R. China

To read an article on Shi Tao published in the Guardian click here

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