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Wang Xiaoning, Chinese dissident convicted on Yahoo evidence, freed

Wang Xiaoning 'in good health' after completing 10-year sentence for urging end to one-party rule

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2012, 3:40am

A dissident convicted based on evidence provided by US internet giant Yahoo! was released from prison yesterday after serving a 10-year term for subversion, his wife said.

Wang Xiaoning , who spent a decade in jail after calling for democratic reform in China and criticising one-party rule, was released from prison early yesterday "in a good mental and physical state", said his wife, Yu Ling .

The 62-year-old became a cause célèbre after a Beijing court named Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) as the source of evidence that led to his 2003 conviction, in a public-relations disaster for the search-engine and e-mail firm.

Yu said she had "stayed up half the night" in a police station waiting for her husband after officers visited her house to inform her of his release.

"I'm really happy my husband is home," she said by telephone from the couple's home in Beijing, where she said her husband was resting after his release.

She said Wang should never have served a prison sentence for distributing essays that advocated democratic reform and criticised China's one-party Communist rule via e-mails sent from his Yahoo account.

"He didn't commit any crime," Yu said. "He just expressed his own opinions."

Yahoo executives who testified before the US Congress said they were legally obliged to divulge information about their users to Beijing and that they were unaware it would be used to convict dissidents.

The company also provided evidence in the case of poet and activist Shi Tao , who was sentenced to 10 years for leaking state secrets in 2005 after he sent an e-mail overseas containing information on a crackdown against democracy advocates.

Yahoo later apologised over the cases, and in 2007 paid compensation to Wang's wife after the World Organisation for Human Rights lodged a lawsuit that also named Shi.

Authorities would suspend Wang's political rights for two more years and "may continue to place restrictions" on him, Yu said, without providing specific details. Wang was not immediately available for interview.

Wang served the full 10 years of his sentence because he refused to admit that he was guilty of the state subversion charges, despite considerable pressure from prison officers to do so, Human Rights in China said.

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