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Call for Indymedia Solidarity

On 7 October, 2004, hard drives from two Indymedia servers were seized from the London office of a U.S.-owned web hosting company, Rackspace, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, apparently in collaboration with Italian and Swiss authorities.

The seizure of the hard drives in London shut down an Indymedia radio station and around 20 different Indymedia websites from Ambazonia to the U.K. Thousands of individuals who posted hundreds of thousands of articles on these web sites suddenly found their voices silenced by an unknown hand.

Although the hard drives were returned on 13 October, the legal framework under which the seizures took place is unknown. Nine days after the seizures there is still an almost total information blackout from the authorities in the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Switzerland. Indymedia still has no confirmation of who ordered the seizures, who took the hard drives, why the seizures took place, or whether it will happen again.

Last week's seizure of Indymedia's servers, which follows on the heels of recent attacks on Indymedia by Diebold, Inc. and the U.S. Secret Service, as well as a government clampdown on community radio stations around the world, has far-reaching implications.

Web-hosting providers may now be reluctant to offer their services to media organizations outside of the mainstream for fear that the latter's sites might be taken down and all their other clients with them. Similarly, individuals may think twice before posting stories critical of their respective governments for fear of reprisal. What happened to Indymedia sets a dangerous precedent of intergovernmental action to suppress independent journalism. Using international cooperation frameworks to obscure due process undermines civil liberties and erodes communication rights, and it must be stopped.

Members of Indymedia are now calling upon media activists everywhere to take action.

1. Solidarity Statement

Sign a solidarity declaration denouncing the hard drive seizure as an unacceptable attack on press freedom, freedom of expression, and privacy. We are demanding a full disclosure of the names of organizations and individuals involved in the seizure, a copy of the court order, and an independent investigation into any violations of due process.

2. Operation Hard Drive-by

Take action on 18 October, Media Democracy Day, or later that week. Collect a pile of junk hard drives and deposit them on the steps of intelligence agencies, consulates and other symbols of media repression. (Similar actions have already taken place in the Netherlands and San Francisco, California.) Consider pasting a large graphic on the hardware and/or holding a press conference to register our concern over this egregious intergovernmental violation of communication rights. See http://solidarity.indymedia.org.uk/drive_by.php3 for details.

3. Get Involved

If you're not already involved with Indymedia, consider being an Indymedia volunteer. Join a collective, publish your stories, pictures, audio or video, or help translate articles. Or, if you can't volunteer your time, donate computer hardware, media equipment, or even money to an Independent Media Center near you. Don't allow the Government's attempt to censor us intimidate us into self-censorship.

We will never be silenced again