Chinese activist jailed over Yahoo email is freed

Shi Tao, before going to jail

Shi Tao, before going to jail (Photo credit: aurelio.asiain)

To misquote Joseph Heller here’s a story from 7th September about one of the Snowdens of yesteryear.  We’ve read so much recently about the ‘secret services’ intrusions into private accounts and yet have forgotten the West’s condemnation ten years ago when China did the same thing.  Of course China was oppressive and suppressive whilst we are democratic.  Makes a difference, doesn’t it?


That Square

You’re free Shi Tao!
But looking back now,
can you believe how ten years was lost?
That was the cost of your words.
What do they say?
The pen is mightier than the sword.
So you won a Golden Pen of Freedom Award
but is that really sufficient reward
for the martyred ten years that you lost.
Years of your life just tossed aside.
If you had the choice to do it again
would you decide to brandish the pen
and dare to mention
……….  ‘That Square.’

‘That Square.’
Tiananmen Square.
The price of your e-mail was jail.
You thought that your mail was fully secure
but Yahoo for sure just didn’t care.
It was happy to share your personal account
with the government of China
who confined you
and accused you of treason.
The reason they gave?
“Illegally providing state secrets
to foreign entities!!!”
and the pity is all you did
was dare to mention ‘That Square’.

Welcome back Shi Tao.
Welcome back to a world where little has changed.
But isn’t it strange
that the internet giants now give away
details of mail to the NSA
and there’s someone called ‘Snowden’
who’s got away,
hoping ten years won’t be lost.

7th September 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “Chinese activist jailed over Yahoo email is freed.”  Shi Tao who was arrested nearly a decade ago after a politically sensitive email he sent was disclosed by Yahoo has been released from prison, a writers’ group has reported.  Shi Tao used his Yahoo email account to send details of a directive ordering journalists to play down the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.  Authorities sentenced Shi Tao, a journalist and poet in the central Chinese city Changsha, to a 10-year jail term in April 2005 for “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”. It was later revealed that the US internet giant Yahoo had given the Chinese government access to Shi’s email account, facilitating his arrest.  The case raised a maelstrom of controversy about the conduct of US internet companies abroad. Activists and human rights groups rebuked Yahoo for its complicity in China’s suppression of dissenting voices. Yahoo spokespeople responded that the company was simply following local laws.


2 thoughts on “Chinese activist jailed over Yahoo email is freed

  1. Pingback: Gong Fei: An Arrest in Tiananmen Square | The Journalist

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