On 25 August 2017 Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière, a member of the CDU, announced the ban of the open-posting platform Indymedia linksunten. Early in the morning, at 5:30, some 250 police raided four private houses and the Autonomous Center KTS in Freiburg. The raids were against five named persons. Three of these people were handed the ban order from the Federal Ministry of the Interior by the police of the LKA Baden-Württemberg (State Criminal Police Office) who conducted the raid. The Federal Ministry had instructed the State Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg to enforce the ban. It in turn instructed the Government presidium Freiburg to do so. The Government presidium Freiburg then asked the LKA Baden-Württemberg for official assistance. On 1 September the LKA confiscated additional IT infrastructure in Freiburg, giving the reason that the computers confiscated in the first raid were described as “strongly encrypted”. In the week following the raids the people concerned were followed round the clock by observation teams. Additionally the confiscation of post and email was ordered. A week after the raids, the car of one of the concerned people was broken open and the interior panelling of the driver’s door was opened. Inside the KTS, safes were pulled out of walls during the raids and nearly all locks were broken. The autonomous center was devastated. The damage, including the confiscation of money and of technical equipment, amounts to around 80.000 Euro.
Down with the Vereinsmeierei
Indymedia linksunten was banned on the basis of the Association Law (Vereinsgesetz). To do this the authorities first had to construct an “association” (“Verein”), so they could then ban it using this law. They also needed to identify people and assign them to this “association”, so they could officially hand them the ban order and hence be able to enforce the ban. The lawyers of the three people handed the ban order have filed a lawsuit against the ban at the the Federal Administrative Court. Legal steps are also being taken against the raids and confiscation ordered by the Administrative Court Freiburg.
Secret service and police hand in hand
The flimsy evidence used by the authorities to assign the persons affected by the repression to the constructed and banned “association” is mostly based on information from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) Baden-Württemberg. Apparently the website and the alleged operators have been intensively observed, yet nonetheless the evidence listed in the dossier is meagre. The assignment of theconcerned people to the banned “association”, and the request to conduct the raid, are based mainly on three old vague reports of BfV informers from public meetings of linksunten in 2008, 2011 and 2013 in Freiburg and Tübingen. These hardly contain any knowledge of the local structures. Beyond that, evidence given consists of texts and comments published online and a little information gathered from measures around the G20: one SMS and a tapped phone call.
Secret Service raid
The spoils were already promised to the BfV before the raids took place. Allegedly secret service staff were present on the 25 August in Freiburg, ready to straight away sift through the confiscated documents. Their task was to find information for potential additional raids which could have taken place the same day. All confiscated documents were given to the BvF in Cologne, the stolen money was paid into the account of the Federal Treasury and the computers were brought to the LKA in Stuttgart. The LKA, Federal Police and BfV wanted to get together and attempt to break the encryption of the IT infrastructure. The linksunten server – which according to our information the authorities never had any access to – was not confiscated.
Solidarity is a weapon
The news agency Reuters wrote: “This is the first ban of a left-extremist organisation by a Federal Minister for the Interior.” Admittedly this ignores the ban of foreign left organisations in Germany and bans of associations in connection with the ban of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) in the 1950s, but for the general trend it is correct. The lefts affected by the raids are criminalized as a stand-in: for the many Antifas who do research, for the confessed saboteurs, for the militant AfD oponents and for the anti-capitalists who mobilize whome the secret service and police haven’t been able to identify over years. It is a question of solidarity that those now targeted are not left with the expenses. It is a question of self-protection that we support the filed court cases against the criminalisation of left media. All of this costs a lot of money, so please donate to the Indymedia solidarity account of the Rote Hilfe OG Stuttgart, IBAN: DE66 4306 0967 4007 2383 13, BIC: GENODEM1GLS, tag: linksunten or by Bitcoin at: 129o3jjBydCzrE1U4NZKdF3QpNiX1aCsM2
Well meant is not well done
On the day of the raids the website went offline. Shortly afterwards the DNS records of linksunten.indymedia.org were changed and the “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” by John Perry Barlow was published at the URL. The relaunch that was announced online, probably won’t happen because of the very real repression. It is, however, reasonable to assume that backup copies of the website exist outside Germany so the repressive authorities won’t succeed in permanently banning the website from the internet. In that far Barlow is right: “Cyberspace does not lie within your borders.”
Hard times require independent media
Indymedia linksunten was set up in 2008 and went online just before the NATO summit at the beginning of 2009. The concept of the website was to bridge different movements, placing a lot of value on simultanous participation and the anonymity of its users. In the nearly ten years of its existence linksunten.indymedia.org developed into the most important left-radical platform in the German speaking area and the go-to address for all looking for information from left and left-radical movements. Here mobilisations and reports from demonstrations were distributed, outings and claims of responsibility were posted, research and analysis was published, leaks and hacks were distributed. The Federal Ministry of the Interior tried to reduce the journalistic platform to criminal content, but this doesn’t do justice to the mass of the publications most of which were published on Indymedia linksunten for one reason only: Because they wouldn’t have been visible anywhere else.
After the summit is before the election
It comes as no surprise that a conservative goverment such as the coalition of CDU/CSU/SPD (the Conservatives and Labour party, with a overwhelming majority in parliament) did not want to give a voice to the marginalized in society. It is no suprise that they used political censorship to silence criticism of their capitalist austerity politics, their new military involvements and of their fatal climate policy. But the ban had two concrete motivations. One was that, after the militant protests against the G20 summit in July in Hamburg, the calls from the right for retribution were getting louder and louder. The other is that the CDU wanted to profile itself as an alternative to the right-radical AfD ahead of the federal election in September.
A helping hand for the AfD
With the ban of Indymedia linksunten the CDU implented a long-standing demand of the right-radicals. The AfD, in particular, felt threatened by publications on Indymedia linksunten. Without wanting to deny the “bourgeois parties” their willingness for reactionary politics: The AfD had already changed the political mood in Germany so much that their demand for harder measures was taken up and pushed through by the governmental parties.
The central platform of anti-fascism
Hundreds of articles and thousands of comments containing critical analysis, research results and calls to action against the AfD had been published on linksunten.indymedia.org. From the rally against a local info stall, to the leak with thousands of names of participants of the party conference and to the exposure of the overlap between the “Identitarian movement” and the “Young alternative” – all of this could be found on linksunten, very much to the displeasure of those put into the spotlight. Till now many mainstream media reports critical of the AfD, the “New Right” gaining power and their overlap with the well known “Old Right”, were based on research and articles on linksunten: sometimes attributed, more often not.
Right media project in the shadow of the censorship
This was felt more and more as a threat to the right-radicals. More and more they understood the relevance of their “own” media. In the last years, dozens of right-radical online platforms and media projects were set up, which partialy reached a large audience with their hate speech. Attempts to organize increased in parallel to the rise of the AfD: Almost at the same time as the State banned linksunten, invitations went out for a “media cooperation meeting” of these right-radical platforms. On 27 August, representatives of about ten right-radical media projects wanted to meet, among them the makers of “Compact” and “PI-News”.
Working title: “Hermes Medianet”
Before the meeting, a detailed concept had already been made about networking and structuring of the right-radical media landscape. In it there were complaints that the “established media network” could “spread its ideological narrative mostly undisturbed”. The goal of the networking meeting in Berlin would be “besides the personal acquantaince of the decision-makers and building up trust” an “initial spark for an institutionalized cooperations”. A “historic hour” is heralded emotionally, one that musn’t “pass unused”: “Every participant has to be aware that the founding stone for a fundamental change in the political culture of Europe could be placed. Because independent media finally again have to control the goverment and stop the disgrace that the establishment controls the media.”
Nazis masquerade as press agency
At a meeting at the Habsburgerstraße 14 in Berlin-Schöneberg “three columns of a future cooperation should be discussed”. These three columns should include a “media service”, a “database” and a “network”. As “media service” a “press portal following the example of the DPA/APA for the easier distribution of original news” was presumptuously announced. First the “involved media”, then the “free, known bloggers”, then “initiative, parties and buisnesses” and finally “media from countries that speak other languages” should be given access to this portal. According to the proposed concept, the “second column” should become a “real media network”. A network with the “development of its on press code and periodic meetings” including “training, mutual help and the exchange of contacts”.
“Einprozent”: Nazis finance nazis
This funding meeting of the “Hermes Medianet”, to which German and Austrian right media projects were invited, was mainly pushed by Patrick Lenart. Lenart has so far been known for his leading position in the Austrian “Identitarian Movement”, and works for “Einprozent” (Onepercent) and is also financially involved with “Info-Direkt”. “Info-Direkt” is mainly run by Ulrich Püschel, Jan Ackermeier and Michael Scharfmüller. It is known for right-radical publications, including Anti-Antifa texts, and also for the organisation of the right-radical congress “Verteidiger Europas” (Defenders of Europe). The congreess happened for the first time in autumn 2016 in Linz and a new edititon is supposed to happen in March 2018. Here again the money laundering operation “Einprozent” of the “Identitären”, dominated as it is by “Burschenschaft” Fraternities, is available as financer in the background. For all of these organisations it will be easier in future without an uncorruptable and independent research platform such as Indymdia linksunten.
Antifascism is and stays necessary
The ban of Indymedia linksunten is part of a europewide move to the right. Brexit is based on racism, in Austria the “German Burschenschaft” is getting involved in the government, in Spain and Italy repression against left is everyday life, the French state of state of emergency has been declared normaility and in Hungary the fascists are already in power. The analysis written at the founding of Indymedia linksunten from 2008 has been confirmed: “These are dark times for social media at the beginning of the 21st century, the zeitgeist is capitaslistic. In our society rightwing tendencies increase and the state becomes more and more authoritarian. [...] Indymedia as a movement-bridging network that has the potential to bring the old and new projects together and to multiply their outward effects.”
Germany, we weave your burial shroud
But Germany has a traditon to ban what can’t be controlled. Indymedia linksunten had succeeded in reaching far beyond the left scene, without the state being able to control the content. This success in the end lead to its ban. This is obvious from the code name given to the working group of the secret service preparing the action: “Epicenter”. With the ban of Indymedia linksunten, the first digital mass medium of the German speaking radical left has been censored. “But our ideas are still alive, our resistance has not been broken.”
The fight continues!
Autonomous Antifa Freiburg