UPDATE 14th Oct:
Hard drives returned
The two servers recently seized by US Authorities were returned yesterday morning to Rackspace (the hosting service where the servers were first taken from). Indymedia is now weighing additional legal options after this illegal seizure of its servers. Many of the original questions still remain.
Sign the Global Support Declaration
UPDATE 13th Oct: Indymedia UK Call for Solidarity
Indymedia Press Release: 11/12th Oct
Reporters Without Borders Solidarity Statement: "Home Secretary David Blunkett challenged over Indymedia website closures"
Association for Progressive Communications Statement: "APC condemns "arbitrary" seizure of IndyMedia web servers by US and European law enforcers."
Further links to mainstream media coverage can be found at the bottom of this feature. Correspondence between an indymedia activist and Rackspace, and lists of sites that are and are not back on line, can be found on this blog.
It is ironic that that this happens now, just days before Indymedia is due to participate in the European Forum on Communications Rights being held alongside the European Social Forum and several other days of discussions about electronic civil liberties and community media. For more information on these events see www.efcr2004.net
UPDATE 9th Oct: Statewatch Statement on Server Seizures and MLAT
"Why did the Home Office agree? What grounds did the USA give for the seizure of the servers? Were these grounds of a "political" nature? Has the Home Office requested that the servers be returned? What does this action say about freedom of expression and freedom of the press?"
UPDATE 8th Oct: Latest Indymedia Statement
"Indymedia condemns the fact that even 24 hours after two entire servers were taken down, Indymedia is still not getting any information of the reasons for the order. By taking down 2 servers more than 20 Indymedia sites were affected in different countries globally as well as several unrelated projects. Indymedia considers this extremely invasive operation a a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech worldwide. Indymedia insists that the servers are returned"
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Statement (8th Oct)
"We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism," said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary. "The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting."
International Freedom of Expression eXchange: AMARC Alert (8th Oct)
See also 2002 Indymedia Support Letter signed by MPs and others.
UPDATE 8th Oct: Rackspace have issued a statement:
"In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter."
On Thursday morning, US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia web servers to the requesting agency. Rackspace, which provides hosting services for more that 20 Indymedia sites at its London facility, complied and turned over the requested servers, effectively removing those sites from the internet.
Since the subpoena was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia, the reasons for this action are still unknown to Indymedia. Talking to Indymedia volunteers, Rackspace stated that "they cannot provide Indymedia with any information regarding the order." ISPs have received gag orders in similar situations which prevent them from updating the concerned parties on what is happening.
It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities.
At the same time an additional server was taken down at Rackspace which provided streaming radio to several radio stations including one covering the European Social Forum in London, BLAG (linux distro), and a handful of miscellanous things.
The list of affected local media collectives includes Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille (all France), Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen (all Belgium), Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, part of the Germany site, and the global Indymedia Radio site.
The last few months have seen numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government. In August the Secret Service used a subpoena in an attempt to disrupt the NYC IMC before the RNC by trying to get IP logs from an ISP in the US and the Netherlands. Last month the FCC shut down community radio stations around the US. Two weeks ago the FBI requested that Indymedia takes down a post on the Nantes IMC that had a photo of some undercover Swiss police and IMC volunteers in Seattle were visited by the FBI on the same issue. On the other hand, Indymedia and other independent media organisations were successfull with their victories for example against Diebold and the Patroit Act. Today however, the US authorities shut down IMCs around the world.
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