FBI Requested Shutdown of Indymedia Servers
The Indymedia network, which hosts alternative media, no longer works in many countries including Italy and France. Its servers located in Great Britain were shut down by the FBI following a request from Switzerland and Italy. Indymedia Italy was closed in a few hours. Opened in June 2000, Indymedia is presented in the form of "first independent media of the masses" by hosting many alternative news and protest sites.
Apparently the protestors caught the notice of the FBI, Italy and Switzerland. On October 8, agents of the American agency visited the British and American buildings of the company which hosts the servers of Indymedia. The servers were shut down and seized. The agents of the FBI did not provide details on the raid.
The shutdown also affects 20 Indymedia sites throughout the world, including the Nantes IMC. Indymedia affirms that "the FBI ordered in Rackspace in the United States to physically shut down" one of its servers. "the order was given to Rackspace to immediately surrender the hard disks hosted in Great Britain", it adds.
The FBI's involvement has quickly erupted into a scandal. An Italian deputy, Mauro Bulgarelli, member of the Green Party, denounced "this provocation and intimidation" at a few days of the social Forum of London (October 15-17).
But the FBI would not have acted on its own. Indeed, the American agency explained a few hours later "the assignment was made in the name of third country by persons in charge for the ministry for Justice against an ISP, Rackspace, which provides server space to Indymedia".
The request came from two countries, "Italy and Switzerland", explained an FBI spokesman to the AFP, without giving more details. "The persons in charge for the ministry for Justice did nothing but fulfill the legal obligations contained in our treaty of mutual assistance", it insisted.
Indeed, we then learned that the National Alliance, the second party of the coalition of Silvio Berlusconi, had asked as of November 2003 to close Indymedia Italy, following insults with the Italian armed forces.
The Attorney General of Geneva has opened an investigation, following a complaint deposited by two police officers who had discovered the name of one of them, their addresses and their photographs on the French version of Indymedia. By seizing the servers, the FBI shut down Nantes Indymedia.
The involvement of the FBI in this business is very suspicious. Don't the Italian and French authorities have the sufficient means to sanction Indymedia if reprehensible acts are shown? All this appears to be an attempt at intimidation, according to the international Federation of the journalists (FIJ), who Satruday asked for an investigation into this operation.
Some suspect the operation was planned by the FBI. On Paris Indymedia, which is still accssible, one can read that "These last months many attacks were directed towards Indymedia by the federal government of the USA. In August, the secret service issued an injunction in order to intimidate the New York City IMC before the Republican Convention (RNC), while trying to obtain the IP logs of news contributors in the USA and the Netherlands. Last month the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raided community radio stations throughout the USA. Two weeks ago, the FBI asked that Indymedia delete an article on IMC Nantes which contained a photograph of uncovered Swiss police officers, and one IMC Seattle volunteer was visited by the FBI investigating the same subject.
"In France, the Odebi League denounces this "brutal act of censure". It points out: "If news content posed a problem on Nantes Indymedia, the French should have the legal authority to do the same, if necessary, to quickly order the removal of these only contents." This intervention of the American authorities in Europe is extremely likely to be regarded as an affront and an insult to national sovereignty.