Indymedia centres raided across Italy – update
Following raids on social centres and a trade union office linked to Indymedia on 20 February 2002 (see below), the carabinieri also raided a Bologna office of the Association of Democratic Lawyers, with the same pretext of seeking "photographic/video material made by private individuals" relevant to investigations into July's G8 summit in Genoa. In a statement by the lawyers' association the search is viewed as "a dangerous precedent" and a "serious attack on freedom of thought and association". It stresses that they had received no request for the material in question, and that the result of the search was negative. The statement adds that members of the organisation were present in Genoa as "observers" and "guarantors of the respect for democratic freedoms". After the tragic events they witnessed the Association of Democratic Lawyers agreed "to collect complaints and relevant material", and envisaged carrying out legal defence for persons under investigation. This led to a participation in the Genoa Legal Forum, a collection of lawyers which is taking up many of the cases of complaints involving protestors.
On 21 February Interior Minister Claudio Scajola appeared before the Constitutional Affairs joint committee (Senate and Parliament) to explain his statement that "During the G8, on the night when the death occurred, I was forced to give the order to shoot if they [the protestors] had breached the so-called "red zone"". He denied his previous claim stating, "I did not give the order to shoot, which is not in my competence, but further instructions [to prevent] anything more serious from happening in the "red zone". Scajola confirmed that there was a situation of "maximum alert" following information received from foreign secret services on 13 and 19 July that there was a risk of Islamic terrorists infiltrating the demonstrations in an attempt to penetrate the "red zone". According "Il manifesto newspaper, the ineffectual parliamentary investigative committee established to look into events in Genoa (which had a duty to discover information rather than impose sanctions) was not told of this information, nor was the parliamentary standing committee responsible for overseeing the secret services. Scajola insisted that the policing in Genoa was not a mere public order situation, linking it to the attacks on New York: "After 11 September everyone has understood, [Egyptian president] Mubarak had warned us. In Genoa we were playing a serious game."
Statewatch News online story filed on 20.2.02
On the morning of Wednesday 20 February 2002 carabinieri (some from ROS – Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale, Special Operative Group) raided three social centres in Florence, Turin and Bologna, as well as a Cobas trade union building in Taranto (Sicily) as part of a nationwide operation linked to events at the G8 summit in July in Genoa, and aimed at the Indymedia network.
Genoa public prosecutors Andrea Canciani and Anna Canepa ordered the searches, and the search warrant clearly states that the raided buildings were deemed to be "Indymedia offices". The explicit aim of the searches was to seize audio, photograph and video material collected by the network to document events in Genoa, stored in the Gabrio social centre in Turin, the Teatro polivalente occupato (TPO) in Bologna and Cecco Rivolta social centre in Florence, as well as Cobas offices in Taranto.
In a press statement that followed the raids, Indymedia Italy labelled the searches as "an attack against freedom of information", and explained that "Indymedia has no offices, but works through the thousands of people who contribute to the website … to produce a free and independent information". Furthermore, they stressed that the material sought by investigators was "all freely available on our website".
The searches were conducted with the use of dozens of carabinieri in riot gear, and masses of material was confiscated, including (according to a report from the TPO) material which had nothing to do with the G8 summit, as well as computers which were vital for running numerous social and cultural activities in which the centre is involved. These raids are viewed as acts of intimidation against freedom of information and social activists, especially as the raid on Cobas offices follows a march during which this grassroots trade union brought around 150,000 persons on the streets in Rome last week to protest against the Berlusconi government's plans to "liberalise" the labour market. A left-wing radio station, Radio Onda Rossa, has had permission to broadcast on its normal frequency withdrawn this week by the ministry of communications headed by Alleanza Nazionale minister Maurizio Gasparri.
Indymedia has denounced the "partial" investigations into police violence at the G8 summit, "while the officials responsible for public order during those days are still holding their seats, and in a few cases were even promoted" referring to Arnaldo La Barbera and Ansoino Andreassi, who were given important posts in the secret services after being removed from office following the G8.
This week Interior Minister Claudio Scajola stated that he had given law enforcement officers orders to shoot if the red zone was penetrated by protestors on the evening after Carlo Giuliani's shooting by a carabiniere, alleging that information of an imminent terrorist attack from Egyptian sources was the reason for this directive.