Indymedia Catch-22


Indymedia internet servers in London have been disappeared into U.S. custody, but we don’t know where they went or who took them, as the hosting company refuses to tell us. We can’t generate any corporate media interest because there are not enough facts available to make a coherent story, but unless we can generate interest we will never be able to put enough pressure on the authorities to get any facts out of them.

One thing is very clear. The equipment that we use to help people ‘be their own media’ has been spirited away to some sort of Guantanamo Bay for “terrorist” computer hard drives. There are also some interesting negative facts. No one has been charged with a crime. The Home Office in the UK “can neither confirm nor deny” their involvement in the seizure of the equipment. The US embassy denied knowledge of the seizure on Friday; an exploratory phone call to the crack investigators at Scotland Yard on Saturday revealed that “you need to tell us who took the equipment before we can find them.” And there is a gaping hole on the internet where about 1 million Indymedia news articles, comments, photos, audio reports, and videos used to be.

The wound is closing, but unless the equipment is returned the scar tissue will never go away. The IMCs that had more tech resources and paranoia were keeping constant backups – IMC-UK was back online within four hours of the seizure, with virtually no loss of content. Others were not so fortunate. IMC-Italy has now reappeared online after four days, and have permanently lost about two months worth of data; IMC-Uruguay has lost everything since last April; others are still assessing damage but most of the 20-odd sites affected have major damage. Thousands of articles have been pulled from the sunlit internet into the dark prison of the U.S. government’s “undernet.” Perhaps the FBI will use the stolen equipment to set up an Undermedia network for use by the detainees in Guantanamo, Belmarsh Prison, Abu Ghraib?

If you have ever read an Indymedia site, posted to the newswire, or made a comment, then please consider: this incident is not an attack on Indymedia, it is an attack on you. Indymedia volunteers are few in number, and we don’t produce much content compared to what is produced by the hundreds of thousands of people who have contributed to the sites over the last five years. The FBI has stolen an irreplaceable piece of our collective history. Worse, they have made a direct attack on an important component of the global movement against neoliberalism, a part that carries messages to and from the different parts of our body politic without the need for the authoritarian brain of a Central Committee to tell us how to move.

Indymedia is still assessing the damage; but in the next few days as the shock wears off, it will likely be looking for other actors in the global justice movements to do solidarity actions, sign petitions, put pressure on governments, and cause trouble on its behalf. You are invited to take part. Please check in for regular updates at a (surviving) Indymedia site near you.

Sites with major damage: brasil.indymedia.org euskalherria.indymedia.org germany.indymedia.org italy.indymedia.org liege.indymedia.org lille.indymedia.org nantes.indymedia.org nice.indymedia.org pl.indymedia.org portugal.indymedia.org

Sites that are still off the net: ambazonia.indymedia.org andorra.indymedia.org antwerpen.indymedia.org belgrade.indymedia.org keys.indymedia.org oost-vlaanderen.indymedia.org prague.indymedia.org uruguay.indymedia.org wmass.indymedia.org wvl.indymedia.org

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