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Press Release #1: IMC Server Seized by UK Police

imc uk press group | 26.01.2009 00:10 | Indymedia Server Seizure | Indymedia | Repression | Technology

Press Release #1 on the seizure of an Indymedia server in Manchester, issued on 26.01.2009 by the IMC UK Press Group for immediate release.

Indymedia targeted
Indymedia targeted

ON 22 January 2009, KENT POLICE seized an INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTRE server hosted by MANCHESTER-based company, UK GRID, in relation to a comment published on the news web site.

The raid in which the server was seized is an attack on free speech and independent journalism in the UK, and especially on the grassroots open-publishing platform that is Indymedia.

In the morning of the 22nd, KENT POLICE emailed Indymedia UK requesting that personal information about Justice Neil Butterfield, the judge overseeing the STOP HUNTINGDON ANIMAL CRUELTY (SHAC) trial, be removed from a comment to a report published on the Indymedia website and that details of the poster be retained.

Indymedia UK volunteers had already removed the information from the report in line with the project’s own privacy policy. Indymedia UK was unable to comply with Kent Police’s request to retain data relating to poster. As an open publishing project, Indymedia UK does not keep logs of the server activity.

Nevertheless, Police seized the machine which was handed over by the management of UK Grid. No search warrant was shown.

The loss of a server represents serious damage to the Indymedia infrastructure in the UK.

Several websites including the global Indymedia documentation project, the new website of Indymedia London, la Soja Mata (an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development), Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 olympics were affected.


The present case is not the first time that Indymedia servers were seized in the UK. Shortly before the opening of the European Social Forum in 2004 in London, a main Indymedia server was seized from the hosting company Rackspace in an operation which involved an Italian Judge, an American District Court and the FBI.

In 2005, the server of Indymedia Bristol was seized under a search warrant. One Indymedia Bristol volunteer was arrested on suspicion of incitement to criminal damage, but was never charged.

As in previous cases, Indymedia UK stayed online this time. This was possible due to a system of ‘mirrors’, which was set up to protect the technical infrastructure of the alternative media project. Despite the resource intensive interruptions caused by server seizures, the independent media activists continue to provide a platform for “news straight from the streets”.


Further information:

2009 Indymedia Server seizure by Indymedia UK

Summary of the 2004 Indymedia Server Seizure by Electronic Frontier Foundation

Responses to the 2004 Indymedia Server Seizure by Indymedia UK

2005 Bristol Indymedia Server Seizure by Indymedia UK

imc uk press group


Hide the following 3 comments

Well they are going to hand it back doesn't it ?

26.01.2009 12:02

There is no reason why they should keep it especially that they can't do anything legal with it IMO.

Whatever incriminating material they are going to find in it could have been planted by them which is dead easy and takes a few minutes at most.

They did not leave a sealed image/copy of the disks seized with their owner as a guarantee against eventual tampering of the seized material by the police I guess...



26.01.2009 21:29

I think that GCHQ logs whatever data arrives to your servers anyway...

It's their job I guess and not one that is very dificult or problematic IMO considering the means they have.

I think it's well worth putting in the equation when trying to understand what the current situation is actually about.

Problem also is that the machine has been given without a warrant so it is not certain they would have actually seized it if their demand had been rejected.

Right now it is unsure to me whether orders come from very high or if simply one officer is abusing his powers a bit cos he is one of those cops that like to do that.

Have you rung them to ask the machine back ?


Freedom of speech?

27.01.2009 10:39

Thsi site is protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Frundamental Freedoms 1998.

The action by Kent Police would be in contravention of this statute. Any lawyer perpared to take this on and make a name for themselves as well as protecting our rights?

They may not like what we say but we have the right to say it.

Plod seems to have little knowledge of the Human Rights Act. How convenient for them. They should remember, "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

Ann R Chist.