Yahoo asks court to dismiss case in China

Yahoo has asked a US judge to dismiss a lawsuit attacking the Internet icon for cooperating with China's communist government, arguing the case is a meritless attempt to meddle in another country's legal affairs, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the 40-page brief represented Yahoo's first formal response to a 4-month-old lawsuit filed on behalf of two Chinese journalists serving 10-year prison sentences for engaging in pro-democracy efforts that the country's authorities deemed subversive.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo and its former subsidiary, Yahoo Hong Kong, helped the investigation by providing China 's authorities with personal information culled from the email accounts and other online activities of the journalists, Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao, the report said.

Echoing earlier public statements about the matter, Yahoo said its employees had little choice but to comply with China 's laws, even if the rules contradicted the United States' constitutional right to free speech, it added.

The report said Morton Sklar, a lawyer representing Wang and Shi, maintains both US and international law required Yahoo to react more responsibly and ethically than it has in China.

Human rights and free-speech advocates have also lambasted other US companies, including Google and Microsoft, for helping the Chinese government stifle the flow of ideas in exchange for greater access to the country's rapidly growing Internet market.

But the convictions of Wang and Shi have focused the most strident criticism on Yahoo. Besides the lawsuit, Yahoo also is facing a Congressional inquiry into whether the company misrepresented its role in Shi's arrest.

If the lawsuit is allowed proceed, Yahoo warned the case could poison the US ' relationship with a major trading partner and provoke the Chinese government to punish dissidents even more harshly, the report said.