Seizure of servers by the FBI

On October 7, 2004, the FBI took possession of several server hard drives used by a number of IMCs and hosted by US-based Rackspace Managed Hosting. The servers in question were located in the United Kingdom and managed by the British arm of Rackspace, but some 20 mainly European IMC websites were affected, and several unrelated websites were affected, including the website of a Linux distribution.[28] No reasons were given at first by the FBI and Rackspace for the seizure, in particular IMC was not informed. Rackspace claimed that it was banned from giving further information about the incident.[29] Some, but not all, of the legal documents relating to the confiscation of the servers were unsealed by a Texas district court in August 2005, following legal action by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The documents revealed that the only action requested by the government was to surrender server log files.[30][31] A statement by Rackspace[32] stated that the company had been forced to comply with a court order under the procedures laid out by the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which governs international police co-operation on "international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering". The investigation that led to the court order was said to have arisen outside of the U.S. Rackspace stated that they were prohibited on giving further detail. Agence France-Presse reported FBI spokesman Joe Parris,[33] who said the incident was not an FBI operation, but that the subpoena had been issued at the request of the Italian and the Swiss governments. Again, no further details on specific allegations were given. UK involvement was denied in an answer given to a parliamentary question posed by Richard Allan, Liberal Democrat MP.[34] Indymedia pointed out that they were not contacted by t e FBI and that no specific information was released on the reasons of seizing the servers. Indymedia also sees the incident in the context of "numerous attacks on independent media by the US Federal Government", including a subpoena to obtain IP logs from Indymedia at the occasion of the Republican National Conference,[35] the shut-down of several community radio stations in the US by the FCC, and a request by the FBI to remove a post on Nantes IMC containing a photograph of alleged undercover Swiss police.[36] The move was condemned by the International Federation of Journalists, who stated that "The way this has been done smacks more of intimidation of legitimate journalistic inquiry than crime-busting" and called for an investigation.[37] Criticism was also voiced by European civil liberties organisation Statewatch[38] and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC).[39] Mathew Honan commented in Salon that "This kind of thing doesn’t happen to Wolf Blitzer".[40] EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl compared the case with Steve Jackson Games, Inc. v. United States Secret Service.[40] In Italy, the federal prosecutor of Bologna Marina Plazzi confirmed that an investigation against Indymedia had been opened because of suspected "support of terrorism", in the context of Italian troops in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. The investigation was triggered after 17 members of the coalition government belonging to the right-wing Alleanza Nazionale, including Alessandra Mussolini, demanded that Indymedia be shut down. A senior party member and government official had announced the co-operation with US authorities, and party spokesman Mario Landolfi welcomed the FBI's seizure of the Indymedia servers. Left-wing Italian politicians denounced the move and called for an investigation.