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[A Reference to HRIC Olympic Resources]
[The Issues]
[The Individuals]
[Shi Tao] [Chen Guangcheng]
[Mao Hengfeng] [Hada]
[Yao Fuxin] [Hu Shigen]
[Tenzin Delek Rinpoche] [Shuang Shuying]
[Yang Maodong] [Huang Jinqiu]
[Li Chang] [Nurmemet Yasin]
"We give up our life and property in order for the government to 'maintain secrecy,' ordinary citizens become targets of punishment, the news media is surgically operated on, and the people's 'right to know' is treated like a joke. And the government just goes on in its own way, making mistake after mistake. This is the greatest hidden danger of China's stability work."

— Shi Tao, Appellate Brief (June 2005)


[Image: Shi Tao]
On this page:

Basic Information

Name Shi Tao / 师涛
Date of birth July 25, 1968
Detention November 24, 2004
Formal arrest December 14, 2004
Charge Illegally providing state secrets overseas [Article 111 of the Criminal Law]
Conviction April 27, 2005
Sentence Ten years' imprisonment and two years’ subsequent deprivation of political rights
Current location Deshan Prison
Anticipated release November 23, 2014
Current Status

Health and condition in prison:
  • According to his lawyer, Li Jianqiang, when he was previously held at Chishan Prison in Hunan Province, Shi Tao was forced to provide labor for gemstone-processing, which produces dust that can be harmful to his health. Shi suffered from chronic gastritis and heart diseases before his imprisonment, and his health has deteriorated due in part to his prolonged hard labor.[1]

  • Shi Tao was transferred to Deshan Prison in June 2007.

International appeals for Shi's release:
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:[2] Human Rights in China submitted Shi Tao's case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, alleging that his detention was unlawful because it stemmed from violations of his right to freedom of expression, and because his trial fell short of international standards. The Working Group determined that Shi's detention was arbitrary on September 1, 2006.

  • Overseas lawsuit: On November 13, 2007, Yahoo! settled a lawsuit brought by Shi Tao's mother, Gao Qinsheng, and Wang Xiaoning's wife, Yu Ling, in the U.S., claiming that the imprisonment of both Shi and Wang occurred because Yahoo! cooperated with Chinese authorities by turning over information relating to their private Yahoo! email correspondence. Wang is a Chinese dissident who was convicted for subversion in September 2003. Yahoo! settled out of court with the families; details of the private settlement were not made public.[3]

  • Government hearing: In a hearing before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs in early November 2007, Yahoo! executives Jerry Yang and Michael Callahan apologized to Shi Tao's mother, Gao Qinsheng, and Wang Xiaoning's wife, Yu Ling, but did not state that they would reject future requests for similar information relating to political dissidents. They argued that failing to honor such requests would put Yahoo!'s employees in those countries at risk of arrest for failing to comply with local law.

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Background Profile

Shi Tao was a freelance writer, journalist, and head of the news division at the daily Dangdai Shangbao (Contemporary Business News) in Changsha, Hunan Province. He had also written numerous essays for overseas Internet forums, including one entitled "The Most Disgusting Day," in which he criticized the Chinese government for the March 28 detention of Ding Zilin, a Tiananmen Mothers activist whose son was killed during the 1989 democracy movement.

On April 20, 2004, Shi attended a Dangdai Shangbao staff meeting in which the contents of a Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Propaganda Bureau document about security concerns and preparation for the upcoming 15th anniversary of the June 4th crackdown were discussed. That evening, Shi used his personal Yahoo! e-mail account to send his notes about this meeting to the New York-based website, Democracy Forum. He was ultimately detained for this action on November 24, 2004. On April 27, 2005, Shi was tried for "illegally providing state secrets overseas" under Article 111 of the Criminal Law. Because the document was certified a "top secret" state secret, he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment following a brief trial conducted entirely behind closed doors.
Shi wrote ... 'Although being in prison is surely terrible, losing one's sense of privacy and safety is even more terrifying.'

In his Appellate Brief of June 2005, Shi wrote: "We give up our life and property in order for the government to 'maintain secrecy,' ordinary citizens become targets of punishment, the news media is surgically operated on, and the people's 'right to know' is treated like a joke. And the government just goes on in its own way, making mistake after mistake. This is the greatest hidden danger of China's stability work." His appeal was denied. Also in his Appellate Brief, Shi further described the harassment that can be leveled at journalists who circumvent the system of information control. "[The government has] expended vast amounts of manpower, materials and financial resources on the long process of placing me under control and surveillance, tailing me, tapping my phone, and finally capturing me and throwing me into prison...it's impossible for [my family and friends] to comprehend the tremendous psychological pressure that I've been under. Although being in prison is surely terrible, losing one's sense of privacy and safety is even more terrifying."

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Shi Tao's Writings
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Legal and Advocacy Documents Relating to
Shi Tao's Case


Case brought against Shi Tao in China:
Lawsuit brought against Yahoo! Inc. in the United States:
Report by Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for
Personal Data
International
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HRIC Advocacy and Media Work on Shi Tao

Below is a listing of HRIC advocacy and media work on Shi Tao, including press release, statements, and case updates. To subscribe to HRIC's press list, please e-mail communications@hrichina.org with "SUBSCRIBE" as the subject heading.
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HRIC Advocacy and Media Work on
Other Imprisoned Writers and Journalists

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Updated News Articles

The Human Rights in China (HRIC) Daily News Brief is a daily compilation of selected human rights-related news covered in local and regional Chinese and English press compiled by HRIC's research office. Visit the Daily News Brief for recent news articles on Shi Tao.


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SOURCES

[1] Information in this section on Shi Tao's health is according to his lawyer Li Jianqiang (March 2006) and was confirmed by Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, in June 2007. For more information, see "Forced Labor Seriously Harmed Shi Tao's Health" [師濤在獄中被強迫勞動健康受到嚴重損害], Radio Free Asia, March 31, 2006, http://www.rfa.org/cantonese/xinwen/2006/03/31/china_internet_yahoo/?simple=1.

[2] The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights and assumed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty worldwide. The working group acts on information submitted to it by nongovernmental organizations and others. It is the only non-treaty-based mechanism at the UN whose mandate expressly provides for consideration of individual complaints. This means that its actions are based on the right of petition of individuals anywhere in the world.

[3] This lawsuit was brought with the aid of World Organization for Human Rights USA. More information about the case, Wang Xiaoning et al v. Yahoo! Inc. et al, can be found at their website, http://www.humanrightsusa.org.




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