Beijing: Yahoo Inc. turned over one of its users' draft e-mails to Chinese authorities, who used the information to jail the account holder on subversion charges, a rights group said on Thursday.
It was the third time the U.S.-based Internet company has been accused of helping to put a Chinese user in prison.
Jiang Lijun, 39, was given a four-year sentence in November 2003 for subversive activities aimed at overthrowing the ruling Communist Party.
Yahoo's Hong Kong unit gave authorities a draft e-mail that had been saved on Jiang's account, the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders, said Wednesday night, providing a copy of the verdict by the Beijing No. 2 People's Court.
Telephones at Yahoo's Hong Kong office and at Alibaba.com, which runs Yahoo's mainland China operations, rang unanswered.
The draft e-mail, titled Declaration, was similar to manuscripts called Freedom and Democracy Party Program and Declaration of Establishment, recovered from a computer and a floppy disk owned by two other Internet activists, the verdict said.
The information proved that Jiang and the other activists were planning to "make preparations for organizing a party and to use violence to overthrow the Communist Party," the verdict said.
Jiang was also one of five activists who signed an open letter that called for political reform and was posted on the Internet ahead of the Communist Party congress, a major event, in November 2002.
"Little by little we are piecing together the evidence for what we have long suspected, that Yahoo is implicated in the arrest of most of the people we have been defending," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
China encourages Internet use for business and education but tightly controls Web content, censoring anything it considers critical of or a threat to the Communist Party.
Blogs are often shut down, and users who post articles promoting Western-style democracy and freedom are regularly detained and jailed under vaguely worded subversion charges.
Rights groups have also criticized Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo for providing information in the cases of Li Zhi and Shi Tao.
Li was sentenced to prison for subversion after posting online criticisms of official corruption.
Shi, a reporter, was sentenced to prison after sending abroad an e-mail with notes about a government memo on media restrictions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in February that China has a right to police the Internet and "guide its development in a healthy and orderly fashion."
Internet service providers Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. also have been accused of enforcing Chinese censorship guidelines.
Google started a Chinese version of its popular search engine that omits links to content the government deems unacceptable.
Microsoft shut down, at Beijing's request, a popular Chinese blog that touches on sensitive topics such as press freedom.
US lawmakers have criticized the companies of helping China crush dissent in return for access to its rapidly expanding Internet market.
China has the world's second-largest Internet population, behind the United States, with more than 100 million people online.
Reporters Without Borders' report came as Chinese President Hu Jintao was visiting the United States. His first stop was Seattle, where he dined with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.