Yahoo Hong Kong and Yahoo China, subsidiaries of the California-based company, were accused of providing information to the Chinese authorities that led to his arrest.

 

The company has acknowledged turning over data on Shi at the request of Beijing, saying company employees face civil and criminal sanctions if they ignore Chinese laws.

 

Yahoo says it would have faced prosecution if
it had not followed Chinese laws [EPA]
Responding to questions posed by the Associated Press on Monday, a Yahoo corporate statement did not specifically mention Shi's case but said it was "dismayed" that Chinese citizens had been jailed for expressing their views on the internet.

 

The company also said that it had told Chinese officials that it condemns "punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression".

 

Shi's legal challenge, filed on May 29 in US District Court, is part of a lawsuit filed earlier by the World Organization for Human Rights USA.

 

The group is suing Yahoo and its subsidiary in Hong Kong, as well as partner Alibaba.com, the company which runs Yahoo China.

 

Last week Shi's mother, Gao Qingsheng, travelled to South Africa to receive the annual World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom prize on behalf of her son.