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03 August 2005

Indymedia Server Seizures - Documents Released

Secret documents about the recent Indymedia server seizure have been unsealed:
"On Thursday, October 7, 2004, more than 20 Independent Media Center (IMC) websites and other Internet services were taken offline pursuant to a Commissioner's Subpoena.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the interests of Indymedia, a global collective of independent media organizations and thousands of journalists offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage of news events. In addition, EFF is working in cooperation with lawyers who represent particular Independent Media Centers all around the world.

The Litigation

Initially, the disappearance of the Indymedia servers was shrouded in secrecy, with no one willing to provide an explanation. On October 20, 2004, EFF filed a motion to unseal the Indymedia documents in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. In the motion, EFF attorneys argued that "the public and the press have a clear and compelling interest in discovering under what authority the government was able to unilaterally prevent Internet publishers from exercising their First Amendment rights." EFF argued further that secret court orders circumvent due process, undermine confidence in the judicial system, and deny those affected by the order any way to challenge it.

On July 20, 2005, the court granted the motion, and ordered the majority of the underlying documents unsealed (but with the specific URLs of the pages being investigated redacted). On August 1, 2005, we received the newly unsealed documents, which are listed below.

The unsealed documents confirm that the U.S. government served on Rackspace Managed Hosting a Commissioner's Subpoena issued pursuant to an April 2004 request from the Bologna (Italy) Public Prosecutor's Office. The Commissioner's Subpoena was seeking "log files in relation to the creation and updating of the web spaces corresponding to" particular URLs on the Indymedia servers."

The full story of inter-governmental attempts to dismantle independent media outlets that serve the interests of the public can be found at EFF. Released documents also at EFF.

The ever-laudable Indymedia are promising an update soon.

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