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Legal row after police seize Bristol Indymedia server

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Police seized a server used by Indymedia, the independent newsgathering collective, from the Bristol home of a member of the group after issuing a search warrant on Monday. The raid is the second time within the last year that an Indymedia server has been seized in the UK.

Officers also took the unnamed Bristol collective member in for questioning, and seized a PC, in an incident that has already provoked a huge row. The action happened despite the intervention on Indymedia's behalf by justice group Liberty whose lawyers advised police that the server was "considered an item of journalistic equipment and so subject to special provision under the law". Police had sought access to the server in order to gain access to logs about a posting related to an attack on a freight train that caused a reported £100,000 in damage.

On or around 17 June an anonymous person posted on the Bristol Indymedia newswire about an 'action' in which a freight train carrying new cars was reportedly attacked in a protest about cars and climate change in the run up to next week's G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. Bristol Indymedia volunteers hid the post from their main newswire within a day because it breached editorial policy. The raid followed unsuccessful police attempts to get Indymedia to hand over the server voluntarily so they could examine logs for evidence.

Bristol Indymedia explained its stance in a posting: "As part of our policy, we will not make non-public information we hold publicly available. We do not permanently store IP addresses. We do not intend to voluntarily hand over information to the police as they have requested, and have informed them of this," it said.

In October 2004, a pair of UK servers used by Indymedia were seized a week before the European Social Forum. The servers were taken from the London offices of hosting firm Rackspace after the latter was served with a controversial US warrant. The FBI apparently acting under a US-UK treaty on behalf of Switzerland and/or Italy to seize the hardware, which was subsequently returned. Swiss authorities reportedly said the data could help its investigation of Indymedia's coverage of the 2003 G8 in Evian but the server was also thought to include correspondence with lawyers involved in the case against Genoa police related to a 2001 G8 summit in the city.

That action resulted in many Indymedia sites becoming temporarily unavailable. The latest raid has left Bristol Indymedia's web site offline with surfers redirected to the main Indymedia UK web site through which a protest against the police action is been organised. ®

Related stories

Feds seize Indymedia servers
Home Office in frame over FBI's London server seizures
Servers seized by FBI returned - but who wanted what?
Indymedia seizures: a trawl for Genoa G8 trial cover-up?
Indymedia: the tale of the servers 'nobody' seized
We seize servers, you can't complain - US gov

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