Police Raid Home of Wikileaks Domain HolderPolice in Germany raided the homes of a Wikileaks volunteer because the domain name is registered in his name.
Shortly after 9pm on Tuesday the 24th of March 2009, seven police officers in Dresden and four in Jena searched the homes of Theodor Reppe, who holds the domain registration for “wikileaks.de”, the German name for wikileaks.org. According to police documentation, the reason for the search was “distribution of pornographic material” and “discovery of evidence”. Police claim the raid was initiated due to Mr. Reppe’s position as the Wikileaks.de domain owner.
Police did not want to give any further information to Mr. Reppe and no contact was made with Wikileaks before or after the search. It is therefore not totally clear why the search was made, however Wikileaks, in its role as a defender of press freedoms, has published censorship lists for Australia, Thailand, Denmark and other countries. Included on the lists are references to sites containing pornography and no other material has been released by Wikileaks relating to the subject.
Some details of the search raise questions:
* Wikileaks was not contacted before the search, despite Wikileaks having at least two journalists which are recognized members of the German Press Association (Deutscher Presse Verband).
* The time of at least 11 police detectives was wasted conducting a futile raid on the private home of volunteer assistant to a media organization.
* Police asked for the passwords to the “wikileaks.de” domain and for the entire domain to be disabled.
* Mr Reppe was not informed of his rights; police documentation clearly shows that box to be left unchecked.
* Contrary to what is stated in the police protocol, Mr. Reppe did not agree to “not having a witness” present.
Ultimately, Mr Reppe refused to sign the police documentation due to its inaccuracies.
The raid appears to be related to a recent German social hysteria around child pornography and the controversial battle for a national censorship system by the German family minister Ursula von der Leyen. It comes just a few weeks after a member of parliament, SPD minister Joerg Tauss had his office and private house searched by police. German bloggers discussing the subject were similarly raided.
Mr. Reppe sponsors the Wikileaks German domain registration and mirrors a collection of Wikileaks US Congressional Research Service reports but is not otherwise operationally involved. Mr Reppe is also maintainer of one of the most popular German Tor-proxy servers (morphium.info) but only the connection to Wikileaks was mentioned during the raid.
Wikileaks.de and other Wikileaks domains were unaffected by the raid.
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