Evidence is beginning to mount that the authorities of at least four countries (Switzerland, Italy, U.K. and U.S.A.) are involved in last week's seizure of two of Indymedia's servers that brought down more than 20 of the Indymedia network's web sites and several internet radio streams. Indymedia has yet to receive any official statement or information about what the order entailed or why it was issued.
An FBI spokesperson, Joe Parris, confirmed to Agence France-Presse that the FBI issued a subpoena to the provider who hosted the Indymedia servers in the U.K., but that it was "on behalf of a third country." (1) Daniel Zapelli, senior federal prosecutor for Geneva (Switzerland), confirmed that he has opened a criminal investigation into Indymedia coverage of the 2003 G8 Summit in Evian. (2) Zapelli will provide details of that investigation at a press conference on Tuesday.
Federal prosecutor of Bologna (Italy) Marina Plazzi stated that she is investigating Italy Indymedia because it may "support terrorism." (3) Plazzi says she will provide more information on Thursday, October 14th.
Meanwhile international journalist associations have come forward in support of Indymedia. "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism," said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary. (4)
Indymedia is consulting with the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how to retrieve its servers and prevent further government attacks on free speech. "EFF is deeply concerned about the grave implications of this seizure for free speech and privacy, and we are exploring all avenues to hold the government accountable for this improper and unconstitutional silencing of independent media.," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. (5)
As of Monday, October 11, five of the downed websites have been restored, including Brasil, Euskal Herria, Poland, UK and Nice. Indymedia volunteers are working around the clock to restore the remaining sites, however at least four of them - Uruguay, Italy, Western Massachusetts and Nantes - have suffered data loss as a result of the governments' action.
"This FBI operation gives us even more reason to continue with what we have been doing for several years," says an activist from Italy Indymedia.
"Uruguay has a long history of media repression. We don't have the money to pay for web hosting, and so we rely on the solidarity of other countries. Actions like the seizure of the servers make the whole world insecure for free media," says Libertinus, an Indymedia volunteer from Uruguay, one of many Indymedia web sites that was caught in the FBI actions as a bystander. "Uruguay's national elections will take place on October 31st. It's a bad time for this to happen."
For more information, visit www.indymedia.org/en/static/fbi, email press(a)indymedia.org, Tomasso at +39 3383903806, Hep Sano at +1-415-867-9472 (San Francisco), or David Meieran at +1-412-996-4986 (Pittsburgh).
(1) On October 7, 2004, Rackspace, a web hosting provider based in San Antonio (USA), turned over two servers at its London office after it was issued a court order under the Mutual Legal Assistence Treaty. Rackspace officials claim that the order prevents them from divulging the reasons for the seizure and to whom the servers were actually given. They stated, "Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities." See more details on www.indymedia.org/fbi and on the press releases from 8 and 9 October: http://www.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/111999.shtml and http://www.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/112047.shtml
(2) For more examples see: http://www.indymedia.org/en/static/fbi.shtml
(3) AFP report: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1509&ncid=738&e=6&u=/afp/20041008/tc_afp/us_internet_justice
(4) International Federation of Jounalists: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=2734&Language=EN
(5) Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): http://eff.org/