On Monday, June
27th, Indymedia Bristol's server was
seized by the police. An Indymedia volunteer was also
arrested during the raid on suspicion of incitement to criminal
damage. Last week, police demanded access to the server to gain
the IP details of a posting. The alternative media outlet is
receiving advice from civil liberties organisations and the NUJ.
Before being legally forced to hand over the server, Indymedia
Bristol stated: "We do not intend to voluntarily hand over
information to the police as they have requested". Bristol
Indymedia see the seizure of their server and the arrest of one
of their volunteers as an attack on the freedom of speech. A
further statement from Bristol Indymedia volunteers is expected
This is the second time that law enforcement authorities have attacked Indymedia servers in the UK in the run up to a major event. Last October, just prior to the European Social Forum, Indymedia servers in London were seized in an international law enforcement operation - prompting a wave of protests and solidarity statements from a wide range of organisations [report]. This time, events are unfolding one week before the G8 Summit begins in Scotland.
Full statement from Bristol Indymedia;
On Mon 20th June,
Bristol Indymedia (IMC Bristol) received an email from the
police asking to contact them with reference to a posting on the
IMC Bristol newswire. IMC Bristol volunteers appointed a
solicitor and started briefing them to contact the police on
their behalf. On Tue 21st June, the police contacted an IMC
Bristol volunteer asking for IP logs. The subject of the police
enquiry was a posting claiming that damage had been done to
either some cars on a train transport, the transport itself, or
the railway line.
Bristol Indymedia volunteers hid the post (originally posted late in the evening of 17th June) from their main newswire within 24 hours of it being posted - as it violated IMC Bristol editorial policy - and well before the police made initial contact.
When the solicitor contacted CID on the 21st to inform them that they could not have the server, or access to it, the police said that they could go through data protection and legal moves to get the logs or get a search warrant, and that they may arrest somebody for obstructing the course of justice.
At this point, an IMC Bristol volunteer informed IMC UK about the events. IMC Bristol then contacted Liberty, whose legal advisor contacted the police to press them on the issue that this server was considered an item of journalistic equipment and so subject to special provision under the law. The police have yet to confirm this. NUJ and Privacy International have also been contacted.
As of 24th June 2005, IMC Bristol remain in possession of their server. Communications with the police, and between various legal and civil rights organisations continue while technical and legal issues surrounding the case are clarified. Bristol Indymedia is an independent news service. 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.
CONTACT: imc-bristol (at) lists.indymedia.org
towards new server / legal costs will very much appreciated.
Other methods of donating may follow shortly. For the moment it's the old-fangled cheque / postal order way of doing things.
Cheques can be made out to:
Bristol Indymedia. Box 3. 82 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB