The big news today is Yahoo settled the lawsuit filed by the World Organization for Human Rights USA (HRUSA) on behalf of imprisoned pro-democracy writer Wang Xiaoning, his wife Yu Ling, and imprisoned journalist Shi Tao. The settlement was discussed over the weekend as the lawsuit dismissal document was filed today but it was dated last Friday November 9, 2007.

Gao Qinsheng sat behind Jerry Yang at the Congressional hearing on 11/6/07, source: HRUSAWhile I was at an AIUSA conference this past weekend, I had a chance to talk to a staff member from HRUSA about the Congressional hearing where Yahoo was heavily criticized by almost everyone on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. I found out about the video of Jerry Yang talking to Harry Wu, Gao Qinsheng and Yu Ling before the hearing. You cannot hear what they talked about in the video and the four of them spoke in Mandarin. Gao Qinsheng told the HRUSA staff that Jerry Yang apologized and she felt it was sincere, especially because he is Chinese. Having Jerry Yang as the CEO might be the main drive for the settlement. Would a non-Chinese CEO settle the lawsuit? I doubt it.

Yahoo’s image has to have experienced some major damage this past week. Settling the lawsuit might be the best way to recover some grounds. Details of the settlement is still private at the moment but some media reports suggested Yahoo will create a fund to support political dissidents that are affected by Internet censorship. Regardless of the exact dollar amount agreed in the settlement, Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning remain in prison. The work is not done yet but a small victory is better than nothing at all.

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