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Yahoo summoned to Washington over Chinese arrests

CEO Jerry Yang and general counsel ordered to testify about what information the company had when it provided information to the Chinese government that led to the arrests of Chinese dissidents.

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee is summoning Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang to Washington to talk about "how the Internet company gave false information to Congress about its role in a human rights case in China that sent a journalist to jail for a decade," according to a release from the committee chairman's office.

Chairman Tom Lantos has asked Yang and Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan to appear at a hearing on November 6.

"Our committee has established that Yahoo provided false information to Congress in early 2006," Lantos said in the statement.

A Yahoo spokeswoman released a statement saying that Callahan's testimony was accurate. The company has said that the testimony was accurate at the time it was given in February 2006 and that executives only learned what the investigations were related to after that time.

"The House Foreign Affairs Committee's decision to single out Yahoo and accuse the company of making misstatements is grossly unfair and mischaracterizes the nature and intent of our past testimony," the statement said.

"As we have made clear to Chairman Lantos and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yahoo has treated these issues with the gravity and attention they demand," the statement continued. "We are engaged in a multi-stakeholder process with other companies and the human rights community to develop a global code of conduct for operating in countries around the world, including China. We are also actively engaged with the Department of State to assist and encourage the government's efforts to deal with these issues on a diplomatic level."

Yahoo has been sued by several Chinese political dissidents who complained that Yahoo provided information to the Chinese government that led to their imprisonment for allegedly distributing state secrets over the Internet. One man, Shi Tao, was arrested in 2004 by Chinese officials after Yahoo cooperated with a request to provide information about the Yahoo Mail customer.

Callahan testified last year that Yahoo did not know the nature of the Chinese investigation when it provided information about Shi.

Lantos ordered a probe into the matter in August after the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights group that focuses on China, released a document that it said shows that the Beijing State Security Bureau had told Yahoo in writing that Shi was suspected of "illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities."