Freedom fears as police seize website server

Police have seized the computer hosting a UK news website in a move
likened to taking a newspaper’s presses or impounding TV cameras.

And one of the publishers of the Indymedia site has been arrested as a result of an anonymous posting by a member of the public.

Indymedia
consists of a network of websites around the world which allow anyone
to post a news story as long as it does not breach the group’s
guidelines.

On 17 June a story appeared on the Indymedia Bristol
site by someone who claimed to have thrown a brick at a train and
suggested this was a good way to protest about the G8 conference.

Indymedia claims that the story was taken down within 24 hours.

But
on 27 June, British Transport Police raided a house in Bristol, seized
the website server and charged a 30- year-old man with incitement to
commit criminal damage.

The police have apparently seized the
Indymedia server in a bid to track down the person who made the illegal
posting by finding their computer’s IP address.

NUJ deputy
president Tim Lezard said: “Our concern is that you can’t just close
down a media outlet because you don’t like what it says.

“The
police wouldn’t close down the Bristol Evening Post and take away its
printing presses if they didn’t like an article that’s in it. They
wouldn’t go into BBC Bristol and steal all their cameras, so how can
they come and do this with Indymedia?

“This is about freedom of expression and protection of journalistic sources.”

A
spokesman for Indymedia Bristol said: “We are outraged at the actions
of the police. They have completely disabled the entire Bristol
Indymedia news service.

“By their actions they have undermined
the principle of open publishing and free access to the media, thereby
removing people’s opportunity to read and report their own news.

“This situation has serious implications for anyone providing a news service on the internet.”

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