Jailed Chinese dissidents have settled a lawsuit they filed earlier this year against Yahoo in which they alleged the internet company should be held accountable for their imprisonment and torture.

The settlement comes after Yahoo executives last week went to Capitol Hill to apologise to family members of the dissidents and to get a tongue-lashing by lawmakers for the company's role in the jailings.

On Tuesday, the company and the plaintiffs settled, ending the lawsuit that was filed in April in the US District Court for the California Northern District.

In their joint stipulation, the parties said they had agreed to dismiss with prejudice all claims "based on a private settlement understanding". In addition, Yahoo agreed to cover the plaintiffs' legal costs.

The document doesn't contain any other details about the settlement. Neither Yahoo nor the World Organization for Human Rights USA, which is based in Washington, DC, and represents the plaintiffs, responded to requests for comment.

In late August, Yahoo requested that the court dismiss the case, its chief argument being that the US justice system was the wrong venue for the case.

No place in court

"This is a lawsuit by citizens of China imprisoned for using the Internet in China to express political views in violation of Chinese law. It is a political case challenging the laws and actions of the Chinese government. It has no place in the American courts," the 51-page filing read.

After stating that Yahoo "deeply sympathises with the plaintiffs and their families and does not condone the suppression of their rights and liberty by their government," the company stated that it and its Chinese subsidiaries must comply with the laws of China.

The plaintiffs had argued in their lawsuit that Yahoo and Yahoo Hong Kong violated a series of US and international laws by providing information to the Chinese government that led to the arrest and torture of journalists Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao.

The plaintiffs sought, among other things, awards of a variety of damages; declaration that the defendants violated international law; a requirement that the defendants actively help to secure the release of detained plaintiffs; and an injunction barring the defendants from "any further disclosures of user information" to prevent future abuses.

Last week, Representative Tom Lantos, a California Democrat and chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, ripped into Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang over Yahoo's role in the case.

During the hearing, Lantos also blasted Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan for testimony Callahan gave last year to Congress about the jailing of the dissidents.