As I had posted in “WSJ: Yahoo’s Lashing Highlights Risks Of China Market,” Yahoo! got quite an earful by Congress last week. In today’s San Jose Mercury News, it was reported that “Yahoo settles with dissidents – Yang Takes Personal Interest in Fate of Chinese Journalists”:
“Yahoo settled a lawsuit Tuesday brought against it by two imprisoned Chinese journalists who accused the Sunnyvale search giant of being complicit in their arrests for pro-democracy activities online. In an unusual development, the deal was driven by the personal involvement of Yahoo Chief Executive and co-founder Jerry Yang, who publicly apologized to the journalists’ families during a heated congressional hearing last week… According to a source close to the Yahoo co-founder, Yang was confident his company could win the lawsuit. But Yang, an immigrant from Taiwan, didn’t see the matter as a legal issue. He saw it as a human issue involving the prisoners and their families, and he wanted to do the right thing, the source said…Under the terms of the settlement, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Yahoo will pay the legal costs incurred by the families of Shi Tao, a business journalist who was arrested in November 2004, and Wang Xiaoning, an editor who was arrested in September 2002. The Sunnyvale company will also set up a Human Rights Fund that would provide humanitarian and legal aid to dissidents who have been imprisoned for expressing their views online….”Yahoo was founded on the idea that the free exchange of information can fundamentally change how people lead their lives, conduct their business and interact with their governments,” Yang said in a statement. “We are committed to making sure our actions match our values around the world.”
It’s re-assuring that Yang wanted to do the right thing, even though he thought Yahoo! could win the suit. I’m sure that would have been also pretty bad publicity anyways if Yahoo! proceeded an won. Nevertheless, though I do not know Jerry Yang, I am sure Yang’s statement were heartfelt. I’m not sure how Yang can help in getting those dissidents out of jail, but I certainly wish him luck.