About Us


Contact us



Background on Shi Tao

Shi Tao

Journalist Shi Tao was released on August 23, 2013 after more than eight years in prison. Amnesty International supporters had long campaigned for his freedom.

Shi Tao was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison for sending an email to a US-based website. According to the court transcript, Internet company Yahoo! provided to the Chinese authorities the account holder information that was used as evidence to convict him. His email summarized a communiqué from the Chinese Central Propaganda Department telling journalists how they should handle the 15th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement. The Chinese authorities accused him of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”.

Following his release, Shi Tao told Amnesty that his life is getting back to normal. He is recovering and resting, and many friends have visited him. Shi Tao expressed his thanks to Amnesty supporters: “I am sincerely grateful for your sustained support and attention to my mother and me over these years. The support and encouragement of friends from around the world have helped my mother and me through the difficult and lonely times.”

Amnesty International believes that all countries and businesses have a moral and legal obligation to respect human rights at home and abroad.   Abrogation of these rights can involve a spectrum of issues ranging from environmental harm perpetrated by corporations in their own or in other countries to an abridgement by a sovereign nation of the rights of its citizens, including that of privacy on the Internet.

The vaguely worded legal definition of what constitutes a “state secret” gives the Chinese government broad discretion in detaining those who have peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression. However, the Chinese Constitution, under Article 35, provides for freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration for all citizens. Moreover, the right to freedom of expression is protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed. Amnesty International considers Shi Tao to have been a prisoner of conscience, incarcerated for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression -- a right entrenched in international law and the Chinese Constitution.

Chinese Democracy Advocate Freed (NY Times)