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US authorities shut down independent media websites

[JURIST] US authorities have shut down 20 independent media websites spanning 17 countries by seizing their British-based webservers. Rackspace [corporate website], an American-owned web hosting company in Uxbridge, Middlesex, was issued a court order Thursday under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty [text], which allows countries to assist each other in investigations relating to international terrorism, kidnapping, and money laundering. The FBI subpoenaed Rackspace to hand over two servers used by Indymedia [corporate website], an international media network which provides a "news wire" to which its users contribute; no specific reason was given, although FBI sources say the action was taken at the behest of French and Swiss authorities.

The general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists has condemned the seizure, calling it intrusive and intolerable [IFJ statement], noting that "the seizure follows visits by the FBI to Indymedia personnel in the US inquiring about the publication on the French site Indymedia Nantes of photographs of Swiss undercover police photographing protestors. The photographs remain available on other websites." Indymedia has more information on the server seizure here. Monday's Guardian has more.

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