Independent Media Centre UK Press Release 26.01.2009
For immediate release
Indymedia Server Raided by UK Police
Issued by: IMC UK Press Group
ON 22 January 2009, KENT POLICE seized an INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTRE server hosted by MANCHESTER-based company, UK GRID, in relation to a comment published on the news web site.
The raid in which the server was seized is an attack on free speech and independent journalism in the UK, and especially on the grassroots open-publishing platform that is Indymedia.
In the morning of the 22nd, KENT POLICE emailed Indymedia UK requesting that personal information about Justice Neil Butterfield, the judge overseeing the STOP HUNTINGDON ANIMAL CRUELTY (SHAC) trial, be removed from a comment to a report published on the Indymedia website and that details of the poster be retained.
Nevertheless, Police seized the machine which was handed over by the management of UK Grid. No search warrant was shown.
The loss of a server represents serious damage to the Indymedia infrastructure in the UK.
Several websites including the global Indymedia documentation project, the new website of Indymedia London, la Soja Mata (an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development), Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 olympics were affected.
The present case is not the first time that Indymedia servers were seized in the UK. Shortly before the opening of the European Social Forum in 2004 in London, a main Indymedia server was seized from the hosting company Rackspace in an operation which involved an Italian Judge, an American District Court and the FBI.
In 2005, the server of Indymedia Bristol was seized under a search warrant. One Indymedia Bristol volunteer was arrested on suspicion of incitement to criminal damage, but was never charged.
As in previous cases, Indymedia UK stayed online this time. This was possible due to a system of ‘mirrors’, which was set up to protect the technical infrastructure of the alternative media project. Despite the resource intensive interruptions caused by server seizures, the independent media activists continue to provide a platform for “news straight from the streets”.