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Shi Tao (simplified Chinese: 师涛; traditional Chinese: 師濤; pinyin: Shī Tāo; born 25 July 1968) is a mainland Chinese journalist, writer and poet, who in 2005 was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years for releasing a document of the Communist Party to an overseas Chinese democracy site after Yahoo! China provided his personal details to the Chinese government.
On October 18, 2005, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced that Shi was one of four winners of the 2005 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards. The Committee's website stated that he would be officially presented with the award when he is released from prison.
In 2004 at the age of 37, Shi Tao was working for the Contemporary Business News in the Hunan province of China.
On April 20, 2004, the Chinese government released the Number 11 document "A notice concerning the work for maintaining stability" (关于当前稳定工作的通知). In the document, it warned journalists that overseas pro-democracy Chinese dissidents may come back to mainland China during the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 on June 4, which would affect the politico-social order's stability. It asked all news media to not report anything regarding the so-called "June 4th event", Falun Gong or people calling for politico-social change. Shi used his private Yahoo! email account and sent a brief of the document to an overseas web site called Asia Democracy Foundation.
When the Chinese government found out, it demanded the sender's personal information from Yahoo!'s Hong Kong office. Yahoo! turned the information over without asking what it was for. Shortly thereafter, Shi Tao was detained on November 24, 2004. The Chinese authorities confiscated his computer and documents without showing any proper permit or document, and warned his family members not to talk about it with others. He was formally arrested on December 14.
His lawyer, Guo Guoting (郭国汀), famous for taking human rights cases, stated that the search and seizure and subsequent arrest were illegal. As a result, his license to practice law was suspended for one year by Shanghai's Department of Law. He was later put under house arrest, and one of his co-workers had to take over the case.
On March 11, 2005, Hunan Changsha Intermediate People's Court held its first hearing secretly. It lasted for two hours. Shi Tao's mother and brothers came all the way from Ningxia to Changsha, but they were not permitted to go inside and observe. After the hearing was over, Shi was permitted ten minutes of private time with his family members. Fifteen days later, he was sentenced to prison for ten years, and will lose his political rights for two years on the charge of leaking state secrets.
On June 2, 2005, the Hunan High People's Court rejected his lawyer's arguments and denied his appeal, keeping the original sentencing. Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, alleged "serious procedural defects" in her son's case, but his appeal was rejected without a hearing.
The incident sparked a controversy about the business practices of Yahoo!, whose Hong Kong arm provided technical information connecting the message and email account with Shi Tao's computer. Yahoo! was criticized by Reporters Without Borders for acting as a "police informant". The United States Congress held a hearing about this and other similar incidents with representatives from Yahoo!, Google, and MSN, etc. In August 2007, Congress began an investigation into Yahoo!'s handling of the case, with Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang testifying in a hearing before Congress. 
On August 28, 2007, the World Organization for Human Rights USA sued Yahoo! for allegedly providing information (email and IP address) to the Chinese government that caused the arrests of writers and dissidents. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco for journalists Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning.
On November 6, 2007, the U.S. congressional panel criticized Yahoo! for not giving full details to the House Foreign Affairs Committee the previous year, stating it had been "at best inexcusably negligent" and at worst "deceptive". In a February 2006 hearing, Yahoo! swore that they had no information about the nature of the investigation. Some months later, it was found out that the document provided to Yahoo! China on April 22, 2004 by the Beijing State Security Bureau actually stated, “Your office is in possession of the following items relating to a case of suspected illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities…” 
According to the International Herald Tribune, while visiting China United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on 27 February 2008 that she had raised the issue of a journalist and a writer jailed by China for expressing their views over the Internet during meetings with the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi. The Yahoo chief executive, Jerry Yang, asked Rice in a letter sent during the previous week to help secure the release of the journalist, Shi Tao, and the writer, Wang Xiaoning, who were imprisoned for sending pro-democracy information using e-mail messages or Yahoo groups.
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