Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure09 Oct 2004 00:40 GMT
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. Note to editors:
(1) AFP report
(2) Statement from Rackspace, 8 Oct. 2004: "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."
(3) IFJ Statement http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=2734&Language=EN
(4) Indymedia volunteers can only speculate about possible reasons. Switzerland Indymedia suspects that the order might have to do with two photos published on the French site (IMC Nantes) of Swiss undercover police agents in charge of the G8 events in Switzerland in 2003. In the last few weeks there was contact between Swiss, specifically the Genevan governmental authorities, and the FBI. The FBI also approached Rackspace as well as a Seattle Indymedia activist recently regarding that matter, but according to communication from Rackspace to Indymedia on Tuesday, the matter appeared to to be closed.
(5) More background information is available at http://indymedia.org/en/static/fbi
(6) Contact: imc-press(a)indymedia.org or +1-415 867 9472