Statement of Micah Anderson Regarding Secret Service Investigation of Indymedia

August 30, 2004 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

I have been doing technical work with Indymedia since the WTO protests in 1999. The Independent Media Center (IMC) is a grassroots organization launched in the fall of 1999 with the commitment to using media production and distribution as a tool for promoting social and economic justice.

I am truly disappointed that this government continues to resort to fear and intimidation instead of protecting free speech as an essential American value.

A few weeks back the FBI was harassing activists, including an Indymedia tech volunteer in Colorado. Now another government agency — the Secret Service — is on a fishing expedition to suppress dissenting viewpoints, harass people who are simply exercising their free speech rights, and intimidate others from exercising their right to protest in connection with the Republican National Convention.

Our hosting provider, Calyx Internet Access, is being scrutinized by the United States Secret Service in a blatant attempt to disrupt our business relationship. The government issued a grand jury subpoena demanding that Calyx disclose information about Indymedia. The Secret Service did not contact Indymedia directly, but instead targeted our business partner. The agents contacted Calyx by phone, originally without a warrant or subpoena, to demand user connection logs regarding a particular post on an Indymedia site. The post in question is a repost by an anonymous person containing information about the RNC delegates that is already available all over the Internet, and publicly available in other forms.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that the First Amendment protects the right to communicate anonymously and for political purposes. We cannot understand why the Secret Service doesn’t respect the First Amendment.

The subpoena in question is puzzling. It references a criminal investigation based on Title 18 U.S.C. 594, which prohibits “Intimidation or interference of voters.” The posting comes nowhere close to intimidation of any kind. It is ironic that the government would bring up intimidation of voters during the Republican National Convention given the Bush campaign’s connection to voter fraud and disenfranchisement in Florida during the last election. The Republican Party is also connected to the largest corporate voting interference ever, through the Diebold Corporation, which makes flawed electronic voting systems. In October of 2003, Diebold issued a cease-and-desist notice to Indymedia, because we had links to mirrors of a damning internal Diebold memo that was leaked. As a result of challenges by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The Online Policy Group (OPG), and Indymedia, Diebold was forced to back down out of embarrassment.

(See press release: http://www.onlinepolicy.org/media/031016dieboldthreat.shtml and more information: http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-voting/)

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