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Indymedia Servers Mysteriously Reappear, But Questions Remain

PRESS RELEASE
October 13, 2004

San Francisco, CA - Rackspace Managed Hosting, the San Antonio-based company that manages two Indymedia servers seized by the US government last Thursday, said yesterday that the servers have been returned and are now available to go back online. Immediate access to the servers, which host Indymedia's Internet radio station and more than 20 Indymedia websites, will be delayed so that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) can ensure that the servers are secure and take steps to preserve evidence for future legal action.

Now that the servers have been returned, the question still remains: who took them, and under what authority? Citing a gag order, Rackspace would not comment on what had happened both in the original seizure of the servers or their return. All that is known at this point is that the subpoena that resulted in the seizure was issued at the request of a foreign government, most likely with the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office in San Antonio. Although initial reports suggested that the FBI had taken the servers, the FBI has now denied any involvement.

The seizure, which silenced numerous political news websites for several days, is clearly a violation of the First Amendment. "Secret orders silencing US media should be beyond the realm of possibility in a country that believes in freedom of speech," said EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl. "EFF was founded with the Steve Jackson Games case fourteen years ago, and at that time we established that seizing entire servers because of a claim about some pieces of information on them is blatantly illegal and improper. It appears the government forgot this basic rule, and we will need to remind them."

EFF will take legal action to find out what really happened to Indymedia's servers and ensure that Internet media are protected from egregious First Amendment violations like this in the future.

Contacts:

Kevin Bankston
Attorney, Equal Justice Works / Bruce J. Ennis Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
bankston@eff.org

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

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