German cops raid Wikileaks home

The shocking revelations through Wikileaks recently that an Australian government agency had secretly ISP-blacklisted a wide range of Internet sites (see previous InfoPowa reports) had a sequel in Germany this week.

Wikileaks has also exposed secret blacklists from several other governments, reports Ars Technica, and this may have led to German police raids Tuesday on the homes of a man associated with the whistleblower site.

Police targeted the homes of Theodor Reppe, owner of the German Internet domain for Wikileaks.

According to Wikileaks, police told Reppe he was targeted because of his links to the site, and official documents served by the police indicated the search was meant to uncover evidence of "distribution of pornographic material." Though Wikileaks itself doesn't host porn, site administrators believe the rationale for the raids may be Wikileaks' recent publication of a secret Australian blacklist of banned sites, which includes the URLs of numerous sites that host child pornography.

Ars Technica reports that police in both Dresden and Jena appear to have collaborated in simultaneous searches of Reppe's residence, asking him to turn over passwords associated with the Wikileaks.de domain, which they reportedly hoped to disable.

But Wikileaks says that Reppe, who also hosts a popular server for the anonymous Tor routing network, is not actively involved with its operations beyond holding the registration for the .de domain and mirroring an archive of Congressional Research Service reports released by the site earlier this year.

A more recent leak may have brought the site under the police microscope: last week the site posted what it claimed were lists of banned websites maintained by the Australian Media and Communications Authority. As part of a much-criticised content filtering scheme, currently in the testing stage, the secret list is distributed to ISPs and the makers of filtering software.

Many of the sites on the controversial Australian list appear to host child pornography, with press reports noting the inclusion of sites offering adult pornography, online gambling, and even a few MySpace pages and ordinary businesses.

Referring to the German raids, Wikileaks characterised the actions as a symptom of "social hysteria around child pornography" in Germany, and claimed that police breached protocol by failing to inform Reppe of his rights and falsely asserting, on the official search document, that Reppe had consented to have the search proceed without a witness present.

Neither Wikileaks.de nor any of the site's other domains have been affected, though Wikileaks.org was down as a result of heavy traffic much of Wednesday, and its front page appears to have reverted to an earlier version.

Ars Technica notes that this is not the first time that Wikileaks has come under fire: attempts to shut it down have come from diverse quarters, from Swiss bankers to the Mormon and Scientologist churches. It's even been threatened in the past with prosecution by the head of Germany's foreign spy service!

Wikileaks is based in Sweden, where stringent journalistic shield laws bar any effort to uncover the identity of a reporter's anonymous source—which may come in handy given that Australian authorities have suggested they may pursue legal action against the leaker if they can identify the responsible party.

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