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News :: International : Politics : Technology
Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
09 Oct 2004
Today, October 8, 2004, Indymedia has learned that the request to seize Indymedia servers hosted by a US company in the UK originated from government agencies in Italy and Switzerland. More than 20 Indymedia sites, several internet radio streams and other projects were hosted on the servers. They were taken offline on October 7th after an order was issued to Rackspace, Inc., one of Indymedia's web hosting providers.
The reasons for the court order or who actually holds the servers now are still unknown to Indymedia.

According to Italian news agency reports and an Agence France-Presse (AFP) interview with FBI spokesman Joe Parris, the FBI acted on Italian and Swiss requests. "It is not an FBI operation," Parris told AFP. "Through a legal assistance treaty, the subpoena was on behalf of a third country." (1)

Earlier today Rackspace published a statement that they turned over the servers in response to an order under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The MLAT establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations regarding international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter. (2)

An Indymedia system administrator stated: "We do not know if Rackspace is under a gag order, or what legal restrictions were imposed requiring them to act this way, or whether their legal department had enough time to study the request."



Aidan White, the General Secretary for the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had this to say. "We have witnessed an intolerable and intrusive international police operation against a network specialising in independent journalism. The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting." (3)

Indymedia condemns the fact that even 24 hours after two entire servers were taken down, Indymedia is still not getting any information of the reasons for the order.

By taking down 2 servers more than 20 Indymedia sites were affected in different countries globally as well as several unrelated projects. Indymedia considers this extremely invasive operation a a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech worldwide.

Indymedia insists that the servers are returned because each day they are inoperable and Indymedia's irreplaceable data is unaccessible means greater material damages to the Indymedia operation worldwide.

These Indymedia raids as reported in other press outlets:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/08/fbi_indymedia_raids/

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/08/1530239

http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/100904W.shtml

http://www.seprin.com/portal/news.php?detail=n1097190141.news

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Re: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
09 Oct 2004
Repost from NYC IMC:

Today, Rackspace Managed Hosting issued the following public statement:

"In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a US based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter."

According to The Register, however, "Dai Davis, an IT lawyer at London law firm Nabarro Nathanson, said Rackspace's statement fails to clarify the legal basis of the raid." Indeed, there is still no hard evidence definitively proving that the FBI is the law-enforcement agency involved in the seizure. Democracy Now today noted only that "a U.S. governmental agency ordered the company to hand over the servers."

Also, online accounts of a recent visit by FBI agents to the Seattle IMC surfaced late last night. Several IMC's hosted by Rackspace remain offline.
Re: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
09 Oct 2004
repost from UC-IMC

FBI seizes Global Indymedia Servers. Reasons Unknown. by Sascha Meinrath
Email: sascha (nospam) ucimc.org (unverified!)

FBI took the hard drives of Global IMC servers in the USA and the UK. It appears that a court order was issued to Rackspace (Indymedia's service provider with offices in the US and in London) to physically remove the hard drives from Global Indymedia servers (backup servers are now in place). Rackspace was given no time to defend against the order before it was acted upon and turned over the hard drives, both in the US and the UK. The servers hosted numerous local IMCs and the reason for the seizure is not known.

The FBI's latest anti-free-press actions began at the beginning of October when they visited Indymedia's ISP demanding the removal of identifying information from photographs of undercover police officers that was posted on the Nantes Indymedia website. When asked what the US government was doing requesting the removal of information from a French-run website that contained information about Swiss police actions, the FBI stated that this was a "courtesy" to the Swiss government. The FBI agents stated that no laws had been broken, and no crimes had been committed. However, because no identifying information was posted on the website in question, it was unclear what actions the FBI was requesting.
FBI took the hard drives of Global IMC servers in the USA and the UK. It appears that a court order was issued to Rackspace (Indymedia's service provider with offices in the US and in London) to physically remove the hard drives from Global Indymedia servers (backup servers are now in place). Rackspace was given no time to defend against the order before it was acted upon and turned over the hard drives, both in the US and the UK. The servers hosted numerous local IMCs and the reason for the seizure is not known.

The FBI's latest anti-free-press actions began at the beginning of October when they visited Indymedia's ISP demanding the removal of identifying information from photographs of undercover police officers that was posted on the Nantes Indymedia website. When asked what the US government was doing requesting the removal of information from a French-run website that contained information about Swiss police actions, the FBI stated that this was a "courtesy" to the Swiss government. The FBI agents stated that no laws had been broken, and no crimes had been committed. However, because no identifying information was posted on the website in question, it was unclear what actions the FBI was requesting.

The article in question is/was posted here:

http://nantes.indymedia.org/article.php3?id_article=3910

On Tuesday October 5th, Indymedia received the following message from Rackspace:

"I apologize for the delay in responding. I have been trying to get a hold of the FBI agent I spoke with before, but haven't been able to at this time. As the request originated with the Swiss police, I can only speculate on what they saw or what they were concerned about. However, at this time, I have received no further communications from either the FBI or the Swiss authorities, so I feel like we can close this this issue."

Today the FBI seized Global Indymedia servers; however it is unclear if this is related to the Nantes issue or is a second FBI concern within the past week.

(14:20) Rackspace has issued a "no comment" response concerning the FBI's actions.

(15:25) New list of IMCs affected: ambazonia, uruguay, andorra, pl, wester mass, radio, uk, antwerpen, nice, nantes, lille, euskalherria, liege, oost-vlaanderen, belgrade, west-vlaanderen, portugal, prague, marseille, galiza, basque, germany media, italy, and brasil.

(16:10) Rackspace has issued the following comments:

I have been in contact with the regional director responsible for the federal order. He has stated that I can not provide any information regarding the order. I am going to follow up with our law enforcement liason to verify this, however.

Regards,

Jennifer O'Connell
Rackspace AUP

***

Unfortunately, we have received a federal order to provide your hardware to the requesting agency. We are complying at this time. Our datacenter technicians are building you a new server which will be online as soon as possible. Your account manager will notify you once the new server is online and available.

I apologize for abruptness of this. However, we are required to comply with all federal orders of this nature.

Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to make this easier on you.

Regards,

Jennifer O'Connell
AUP Administrator
Rackspace Managed Hosting

***

(16:45) The story has hit slashdot:

http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/04/10/07/204217.shtml?tid=153&tid=219

(16:55) Original photos are now available here:

http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/mtoups/nantes/copsinnantes.htm

(October 8, 2004 -- 11:30) Additional information is being posted here: http://indymedia.org/en/static/fbi

(13:00) Statement from Rackspace:

In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.

(23:50) According to Italian press agencies tonight, and Agence-France Presse, who took a quote from an FBI spokesperson: the FBI was
requested to take this action by Switzerland and Italian governments:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1509&ncid=738&e=6&u=/afp
Related stories on this site:
indy vs fbi
The Question Is WHY?
09 Oct 2004
All IMC's should have back-up servers at different locations. It'd put the screws to any illegal seizures!
Hope everyone affected gets their drives and servers back.
Peace IMC's!
Re: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
10 Oct 2004
Repost from slash dot from Sunbird at Seattle IMC:

Background information. (Score:5, Informative)
by sunbird (96442) on Friday October 08, @01:08AM (#10467286)
I was visited by two FBI agents last Friday (10/1/04) because I am the registered agent for the Seattle Indymedia Center [indymedia.org]. The agents informed me that they were here on a "courtesy visit" on behalf of the Swiss government based on a series of photographs posted on a French indymedia site (http://nantes.indymedia.org) . The agents informed me that the post contained personally identifying information about the officers including their home address and phone number.

I asked them what the US government's interest was in Swiss police and French websites. They informed me that no law had been violated but they were just requesting on behalf of the Swiss government that the identifying information be removed. I clarified that their concern was with the identifying information, and not with the photographs, because taking pictures of someone in a public forum is not objectionable. They agreed with me and said that their only concern was the identifying information.

I asked them for the URL of the offending post. They did not know what a URL was. I asked them what the address was for the post-- "the address you would type into your internet browser." They looked confused, consulted their notes, and stated that they weren't sure, but they thought it was http://natz.indymedia.org (in fact, the correct address is nantes.indymedia.org). I informed them that it would be very difficult to track down the post considering that there are thousands of posts on indymedia sites everyday.

I told them that the Seattle Indymedia Center has no authority regarding the Nantes Indymedia Center and that they should probably direct their request directly to the Nantes Indymedia Center. They left.

I pulled up the Nantes site. On the front page of the site, at the very top, was a large logo of the FBI, and an article regarding how their ISP (Rackspace) had received a request from none other than the FBI to remove a certain post...

Nothing happened for a few days, and then today the server is gone. This is what we know for a fact:

* Rackspace received a subpoena requesting certain information.
* Rackspace decided to turn over our entire server.
* Rackspace has refused to provide a copy of the subpoena on advice of counsel (most likely because the subpoena contains a gag order)
* When we inquired of Rackspace, this was their response: "Unfortunately, we have received a federal order to provide your hardware to the requesting agency. We are complying at this time. Our datacenter technicians are building you a new server which will be online as soon as possible. Your account manager will notify you once the new server is online and available. I apologize for abruptness of this. However, we are required to comply with all federal orders of this nature. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do to make this easier on you."

Indymedia is working on a press release on this matter and is working with EFF [eff.org] to assess its legal options.
Re: Italy and Switzerland Requested Indymedia's Server Seizure
10 Oct 2004
If anyone from Western Mass IMC is reading this, please get in touch with Boston IMC at 617-338-0184.