Thursday, 8 October 2009

FBI arrest G20 protester for using Twitter

Remember when the people of Iran took to the streets to protest against the outcome of their Presidential election? Remember how social media, particularly twitter, were used to give coverage in the West to events and to some extent, aide protesters on the ground? Remember how the US State Department asked twitter to hold off routine maintenance in order to help the Iranians using the network?

Well, the FBI seemed to have forgotten all that when they arrested Elliot Madison for communicating with protesters at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh last month. Madison was one of two people found in front of laptops and police radio scanners in a motel in Pittsburgh during the leaders' summit, which was subject to numerous protests in which 200 were arrested.

According to police documents, Madison used Twitter "to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement".

A week later, the FBI raided Madison's New York home and conducted a sixteen hour search, confiscating such items as political literature, computers and children's toys, reminiscent of a British police raid of an environmental protester who took part in a Drax protest.

Elliot Madison and his lawyer appeared in an interview on Democracy Now (above, from 10m 28s). The charges sound flimsy and quite laughable when it seems Madison was merely passing on the police's own communications, but worse is the sheer hypocrisy of US authorities when the boot is on the foot giving them a good kicking instead.

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