WASHINGTON, DC: The fate of Chinese journalist Shi Tao (pictured), now undergoing a ten year jail sentence in a communist hellhole, has triggered a Congressional investigation into the part played in the affair by free-speakin', tell it like it is man, online mammoth Yahoo.

House Foreign Affairs chairman Tom Lantos (Democrat, California) has ordered an investigation into Yahoo's role in the investigation and subsequent imprisonment of the hapless journalist for alleged betrayal of state secrets.

It centers on an email sent by Mr Tao exposing Chinese media restrictions, a crime known in the running-dog capitalist West as investigative journalism.

At the behest of the Beijing State Security Bureau, Yahoo passed information about the journalist to the commissars. But, claimed the firm's general counsel Michael Callahan when testifying to Congress last year, Yahoo "had no information about the nature of the investigation" when it provided that information.

Now, however, human rights group Dui Hua Foundation has refuted Callahan's claim that Yahoo knew nothing of the investigation's nature.

The group says it has documentation proving that the Security Bureau wrote to Yahoo saying it wanted email content about Mr Tao for an investigation into suspected "illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities."

Yahoo spokesman Jim Cullinan expressed the firm's regret that Representative Lantos was "rushing to judgment on this issue, because the facts will support Yahoo's testimony to Congress."

Similar sadness was not expressed about the fate of Mr Tao.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff