29 September, 2004

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FBI took the hard drives of IMC servers in the UK!!!
Pressrelease, 7 October 2004
From IMC

Thursday morning, 7 October 2004, 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 court order 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. (see update 1 below)
It is unclear to Indymedia how and why a server that is outside the US jurisdiction can be seized by US authorities. (see update 1)
At the same time an additional server was taken down at Rackspace which provided streaming radio to several radio stations, BLAG (linux distro), and a handful of miscellanous things.
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.
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.
--- end press release ---
Check here for
Translations of the press release
Update 1, 8 October:Statement by Rackspace
"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 Commissioner̢۪s 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.
For additional information on the MLAT, please visit
Update 2, 8 October:Indymedia & the FBI: earlier events
Earlier incidents with the FBI, CIA or other US authorities included:
Gov't Attempts Subpoena For Indymedia Logs - Service Provider Refuses: Shortly before the RNC in NYC, August 2004, the FBI attempted to retrieve IP logs from one of Indymedia's ISP at their offices in the US and in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
Free Radio Santa Cruz Raided by Federal Government
Indymedia fights Diebold's legal attempt to silence discussions about e-voting
Cyprus IMCista Investigated by United States Intelligence Services
FBI asked for the Nantes post on swiss police to be removed, but admitted no laws were violated:"The FBI agents told me that they were not concerned with the photos, but with the identifying information. There never was any such identifying information, and even if there was, it would likely be protected by the first amendment if it was obtained legally. (There was a recent case here in Washington that you may be familiar with on this very issue). But, even assuming it is illegal to post identifying information (which it is not), there WAS NO SUCH info. The FBI agents freely admitted to me that individuals have a right to take hotographs of agents in public places and post those photos on the internet."
Indymedia still does not have information on the following questions:
1) Why was the hardware sized? The order was issued to Rackspace and they have not been able to give Indymedia any details, nor were any US authorities. Indymedia has been trying to find this out and is still doing so.At least 4 different stories are spread worldwide at the net as possible reason, some of them more likely then others. However, we do not have any confirmation on any of them.
2) Who issued the order where? We understand that the FBI contacted Rackspace in the US, even though the hardware in question is physically hosted in the UK. If anybody has confirmed information on this, please tell us.
3) What hardware was removed? We don't know exacetly whether the complete servers or the hardware were removed. However, we know that at least two servers went offline.

Oct 8 Update: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure!
Today, October 8, 2004, Indymedia has learned that the request to seize Indymedia servers hosted by a US company in the UK originated from government agencies in Italy and Switzerland. More than 20 Indymedia sites, several internet radio streams and other projects were hosted on the servers. They were taken offline on October 7th after an order was issued to Rackspace, Inc., one of Indymedia's web hosting providers.
The reasons for the court order or who actually holds the servers now are still unknown to Indymedia.
According to Italian news agency reports and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) interview with FBI spokesman Joe Parris, the FBI acted on Italian and Swiss requests. "It is not an FBI operation," Parris told AFP. "Through a legal assistance treaty, the subpoena was on behalf of a third country." (1)
Earlier today Rackspace published a statement that they turned over the servers in response to an order under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The MLAT establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations regarding international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter. (2)
An Indymedia system administrator stated: "We do not know if Rackspace is under a gag order, or what legal restrictions were imposed requiring them to act this way, or whether their legal department had enough time to study the request."
Aidan White, the General Secretary for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had this to say. "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism. The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting." (3)
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 because each day they are inoperable and Indymedia's irreplaceable data is unaccessible means greater material damages to the Indymedia operation worldwide.

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