Indymedia is an global alternative media network that provides challenging and independent reporting, particularly of political and social justice issues, with a newswire where any member of the public can publish their own reports and articles. The Indymedia network is composed of "wiki-like" Web sites in which anyone is free to post articles and comments.
The servers appear to have been seized under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Besides Britain and the USA being partners in the MLAT which allows in certain cases to prosecute citizens from a country at the request of the other country's justices, this still needs
to be done in compliance with the legal standards of the affected country (in this case, Britain). Taking into account the above, it seems this might not have been the case.
According to Carlos Afonso of Brazil's RITS,
"Indymedia in Britain hosted its servers in a USA corporation subsidiary - Rackspace - in Britain. Thus, the corporation is forced to
abide by the imposition of American justice, and this includes its subsidiaries. The obvious question is why Indymedia took such a risk,
when there are several other, legally less vulnerable, alternatives?"
The alleged reason for the shutdown was the publication of the photos of two Swiss undercover agents by an Italian Indymedia center. "Their images are all over the Internet by now, which turns the apparently illegal seizure into even more nonsense," says Afonso.
The global advocacy organization Association for Progressive Communications issued a statement strongly condemning the seizure:
"The seizure of the servers in London shut down around 20 different Indymedia websites including Ambazonia, Uruguay, Andorra, Poland, Western
Massachusetts, Nice, Nantes, Lilles, Marseille, Euskal Herria (Basque Country), Liege, East and West Vlaanderen, Antwerpen (all Belgium),
Belgrade, Portugal, Prague, Galiza, Italy, Brazil, UK, and parts of Germany Indymedia. Many are still offline, those few that have returned have suffered data loss.
"The particular legal framework under which the seizures took place is unknown. Five Days after the seizures there is still an almost total
information blackout from the authorities in the UK, US, Switzeland and Italy. Indymedia still has no confirmation of who ordered the seizures, who took the servers in London, why the seizures took place, where the servers are now located, and whether they will be returned.
"We [APC] are concerned over the growing use of international co-operation frameworks by Governments and Law enforcement agencies which can be used to obscure clear legal process, and call for openness and clarity in international co-operation, to ensure due process and that civil liberties are protected.
"Statements of support for Indymedia and condemnation of the shutting down of over 20 Media outlets have been recieved from The Electronic Frontier Foundation, The International Federation of Journalists, the National Union of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, World Association of Community
Radio Broadcasters and many other organisations.
"Indymedia UK condemns the seizure of the servers as an unacceptable and unprecedented attack on press freedom, free speech and privacy and asks for urgent solidarity action in demanding:
Please write to the British Home Secretary and the US Attorney General:
1. Expressing grave concern at the action taken against Indymedia.
2. Demanding the immediate return of the servers to Indymedia with all data intact.
3. Requesting a full investigation into the circumstances and legality of the action taken to seize the Indymedia servers and to close Indymedia websites, with the disclosure of the names of the organisations and individuals involved in the seizure.
Rt Hon David Blunkett MP
The Home Office
London - UK
US Department of Justice
Washington - USA
Please send copies of letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisations and individuals are also encouraged to issue their own statements in support of Indymedia and against the seizure of the servers.
Please send copies to: email@example.com
Additionaly organisations and indivduals can add their statements of
For background on the Server Seizures see: