cr> Political Censorship on Internet


(Note from moderator: one interesting twist in this conflict,
according to the article below, is that one of the charges brought by
a right-wing Spanish paper against this Basque Web site is that they
might use encryption in the pursuit of terrorism.--Andy)

Sender: •••@••.•••

Zurich, 2nd April 1996

*** Political Censorship on the Internet  ***

Attentate against the Freedom of Speech and Privacy Rights through a
cyberterroristic attack against the publication of informations about the
Basque Country on Internet

Dear Sirs and Madams, We invite you to a

*** Press Conference ***
presenting the new Basque Web-site on the Internet
on Wednesday, the 10th April of 1996, at 11 am
in the International Press Center, Brussel
(Press Room, 5th floor; 1, Bvd. Charlemagne)

with the presence of a member of the "Euskadi Koordination" (Basque
Solidarity Committee) from Switzerland, a representative of the "Union for
the Rights and Freedom of Computer Communication and Information" from
Belgium and a representative of the "Basque Association for Freedom of=

The Internet is 'in'; unsolved and complicated political problems are 'out'.
And what happens when a Solidarity Committee with Euskadi from Switzerland
uses the Internet for information purposes about the reality and the
political conflict in the Basque Country? First, it is heavily criminalized,
then it gets seriously attacked by cyberterroristic actions, and at last, it
is obliged to close it's informative offer on his Web-site. And all this is
staged and applauded by nearly all of the so called "democratic" media of
the Spanish State. This happened to us in February of this year. But we
didn't give up and we are now returning to the Net: The new Web-site will be
presented at this press conference.

Make yourself your own opinion about this story, about this very first case
in of a targeted political censorship on the Internet, with unforeseeable
consequences for the freedom and future of this electronic communication
medium. You will be able to look up the original Web-pages of our electronic
magazine "Euskadi Information" under the following provisionally address:
This address is only valid till 10th April; the final address of the new
Web-Site will be presented at the Press Conference. You can also contact us
for any question or supplementary information by e-mail at
•••@••.••• or by sending us a fax to (02) 646 30 12 in Brussel.

With our best regards,

Euskadi Koordination
Zurich, Switzerland

Appendix: please spread this information without modification
and send back supporting mails or faxes.

*** Criminalization and Terror Actions on the Internet =3D Political
Censorship ***

The Web-Site "Euskadi Information", which offered news and background
information about the Basque Country since October 1995, has been closed
because of the impact of a consciously organized "terror" action. On January
the 19th began a defamotary and criminalization campaign by nearly all
spanish media of the information published through the Internet by the
Euskadi Koordination in Zurich (Switzerland). The 15th February a big and
intensive e-mail-"bombing" was started by different spanish Universities and
almost achieved to saturate and crash our Internet provider, the Internet
Access AG in Zurich. As a result of this trouble, our information pages and
e-mail address were removed from the Internet by our provider, and the
antidemocratic spanish attackers could congratulate themselves on the -
provisonal - closure of our site.

"Euskadi Information" - An alternative information project goes online

The Euskadi Koordination is an association that was founded 1984 in Zurich
(Switzerland) and registered according to Swiss law. The main objective is
to spread alternative information about the Basque Country (Euskadi), and
specially about the political conflict between Euskadi and the Spanish
State. From 1986 to 1992 the news, background information and discussions
were published in german in the bimonthly magazine "Euskadi Information".
The edition of 1000 units was sent to hundreds of subscribers and dozens of
libraries in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Other groups in Europe edited
similar magazines in french and spanish, occasionally also in english and

After nearly two and a half years of a break, the reorganized Euskadi
Koordination decided to continue with the information project, choosing now
not the printed form, but the electronic publication on the Internet. In
October 1995 we started a first test phase of the new Euskadi Information
online: our Web pages were published by the provider Internet Access AG in
Zurich under the address In December 1995 we
registered our Web-Pages on the popular search engines like Yahoo, Lycos
etc. Our offer of information in five languages (german, english, basque,
spanish and french) was expanded more and more and the number of people that
visited our site increased from week to week: by the end of  January 1996 we
had already about 1500 unique accesses per week, (more than 20'000 counting
all accessed pages), and lots of interesting - mostly positive - e-mail
correspondence. It was clear: our project covered a real need for
alternative information about the situation in the Basque Country.

The information offered on our Web-site - while being still incomplete -
covered all relevant aspects of life in the Basque Country: from politics to
language and culture to sports and even cooking, trying to set up a kind of
news magazine as well as a free accessible archive. This information was
gathered from basque newspapers ("egin") and magazines ("herria eginez") as
well as from several political and social organizations close to the
independentist left, and specially from the (legal) party Herri Batasuna
among others. All information was perfectly legally available in the Spanish
State and there was - of course - no call to violence or anything similar.
In face of the totally uniform and misinformed information about Euskadi
that is spread by nearly all the media in the Spanish State and outside, we
found it very necessary to show the true basque reality and to present the
analysis and the political project of the basque liberation movement and
their proposition for a peaceful solution of the conflict through dialogue
and negotiation.

The criminalization campaign and the computer attack

On February the 19th the conservative newspaper "El Correo espa=F1ol" from
Bilbao published an article about our Web-Site and a comment by J.M. Calleja
with the provocative title "InternETA". In both articles, they accused
Euskadi Information of publishing a distorted view of the Basque Country and
to belong to the environment of the basque armed organization ETA. The next
day nearly all newspapers in the Spanish State as well as several radio and
TV-stations brought the same "news", in many cases even copying every word
exactly from the "El Correo espa=F1ol". The ultraconservative and
law-and-order newspaper "ABC" from Madrid tried to criminalize us claiming
that "the ETA environment could use Internet for encrypted communications",
and that the police was investigating our activities. In the following
weeks, the campaign against us, far from calming down, increased
significantly. All the media published longer articles with photographies of
our Web pages, trying to interprete our information as "apology in support
of terrorism" (which may lead to a condamnation from six to twelwe years of
prison in this 'democratic' Spanish State). "ABC" and some magazines
introduced their articles with titles like "The police suspects ETA to order
attentates through Internet"; they even published the full name of one of
the members of the Euskadi Koordination in Zurich, and accused us of being
part of the international terroristic scene because of our Web-Links to
other Web pages like the irish Sinn Fein or the mexican Zapatistas, and
because we encouraged the civil rights campaign for the use of PGP=

At this point we got also the first injuring and threatening e-mails from
people from the Spanish State, mostly anonymous or with faked addresses.
Some messages were clearly dangerous, announcing attentates against basque
independentist politicians by paramilitary groups, in the tradition of the
dirty war (GAL-affair etc.) that the Spanish State uses against the Basque
Liberation Movement. A few days after a new attentate of ETA in Madrid,
which we even didn't mention on our pages, some hackers intruded the system
of our Internet provider the 13th February and achieved to change some
background and other graphics of our Web pages with other ones ridiculizing
us. This sabotage was published the next day in all spanish media, with
proud comments like "The democarcy 'virus'" or "antiterroristic hackers
fighting back the indesireables on Internet". It is still unclear how the
hackers got access to the Web pages, and, as our provider told us later, it
only seems to be that it wasn't neither through mail nor through FTP.

In these days, as we were told later, first ideas and announcements about
the possiblity of bombing us with e-mail were openly discussed in the
spanish newsgroups "soc.culture.spain" and "". In the
morning of Thursday the 15th February finally, a big e-mail flooding was
started from several spanish universities, mainly from the University of
Valladolid and the "Universidad Autonoma de Madrid". It was directed against
our e-mail address and against the one of the system administrator of our
provider, the Internet Access AG. During two days, and with a maximum
frequency of up to 80 e-mail per minute, huge lots of injuring messages and
trash e-mail were sent by several hundred people mainly from the Spanish
State, but partially also from the US; a significant part of these mails was
generated using e-mail robots that fired unceasingly. Even more, there were
press informations about spanish and US security agencies being involved and
collaborating in this case, as well as founded rumours about an intervention
of spanish representatives before swiss authorities.

The Web-site "Euskadi Information" finally closed - but not forever

Under the pressure of this heavy attack, our provider definitevely closed
our Web-site the same day, even if he had to admitt that the contents of our
pages were perfectly legal from the point of view of Swiss law, and that he
deeply regretted this attack on the freedom of speech. Spanish press
congratuled themselves to this fascistoid actions and to the closure of this
"Web-site of terroristic propaganda". With a few exceptions, Swiss press and
media relied also on the misinformations spread by spanish press agencies,
making it impossible for us to find soon an alternative Internet provider
who would face the risk of a possible new attack of the antidemocratic
spanish cyberterrorists. Meanwhile there have been other such actions, like
the bombing of the basque mailing list Basque-L with bogus suscriptions, and
the discussion in the above cited spanish newsgroups about preventing the
basque newspaper "egin" from going online.

At this moment we are working towards a solution for a more secure "Euskadi
Information", and hope to be newly present on the Internet in a few weeks.
But besides our own efforts we need at least as much the solidarity and
support of all people and organizations, Internet-users or not, that are
aware of the great importance that this precedent of political censorship
can be for all who believe in and fight for a free and tolerant, for a
democratic and progressive Internet.

Euskadi Koordination
Zurich, Switzerland

Euskadi Koordination
Postfach 7323
8023 Zurich

e-mail: •••@••.•••
Fax ++ 32 2 - 646 30 12

 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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