From The Guardian
The independent media
organisation that had its website servers seized by the FBI said today that
the order to snatch its London-based equipment originated in Italy.
Indymedia, a collective of anti-globalisation and single-issue sites,
said it had been told that an Italian judge in charge of investigating
alleged bomb threats against the EU Commission president, Romani Prodi, had
ordered the seizure.
The FBI raided the London offices of internet hosting company Rackspace
last week, grabbing two drives which effectively shut down 21 sites
including ones in the UK, Poland and Brazil.
In the face of silence from the FBI, Rackspace and the home secretary,
David Blunkett, speculation had arisen that Swiss authorities had ordered
the seizure after one of Indymedia's sites ran a picture of two Geneva
policemen involved in identifying demonstrators at a G8 summit two years
But the independent organisation, which bills itself as "a network of
collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate and
passionate tellings of the truth," said today that Italian judge Marina
Plazzi ordered the raid after he was instructed to investigate postings on
The servers are understood to contain information from a number of
independent journalists, including Mark Covell, who is suing the Italian
police after he was left needing a blood transfusion after being attacked at
the Genoa G8 summit in 2001.
Indymedia said it was aiming to file an injunction banning the export of
any information on its confiscated servers, which were returned to
Rackspace's London offices two days ago.
The seizure provoked widespread criticism across the globe. The
International Federation of Journalists said it had written to Blunkett
and his counterparts in America, Switzerland and Italy demanding to know why
the seizure had been authorised.
This intervention is the responsibility of the British authorities
because it relates to a hosting company operating on their territory.
Closure of websites is a serious step, the reasons for which should
definitely be made public, said the letter.
The NUJ, which is acting in conjunction with the federation over the
protest, said the seizure was a "direct" affront to media freedom.
To take away a server is like taking away a broadcaster's transmitter.
It is simply incredible that American security agents can just walk into a
London office and remove equipment, said the NUJ general secretary, Jeremy
Dear. In this nightmare world they can apparently close the operation down
without any reason being given, without any chance to question or protest.
The FBI raid, which was based on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty that
allows far-reaching police co-operation in the fields of international
terrorism, kidnapping and money-laundering, was also condemned in the US.
Robert McChesney, founder of Freepress, a non-profit independent media
organization in the US said: This action is an assault on freedom of the press that sets a troubling
precedent of intergovernmental action to suppress independent journalism.