Following the publication of the statement claiming responsibility for arson in a Gendarmerie barracks in Grenoble, Indymedia Grenoble and Nantes were requested by the authorities to either remove the statement, or face the possibility of the government blocking access to their websites.
In the night of 20th September, about fifty vehicles stationed in Gendarmerie barracks in Grenoble were burned. The fire spread to the nearby hangar, destroying it completely and causing several million euros of damage. The action did not harm anyone. The next day, a statement claiming responsibility for this action was published on Indymedia Grenoble, and then on Indymedia Nantes. The attack was claimed as a gesture of solidarity with people going to trial following the fire of a police car during a demonstration in 2016.
After the publication, the administrators of these sites have received emails from the Central Office for the Fight Against Crime Linked to Information Technology and Communication (OCLCTIC), demanding that the concerned articles be removed from the sites, or both sites will be liable for blocking and dereferencing.
As the team at Indymedia Grenoble has pointed out in a communiqué, “this request (…) directly echoes the attack which took place in Germany on the 25th of August against Indymedia Linksunten, an attack which resulted in the police raid of four households and a self-administered social service center, citing similar pretexts.”. In both cases, the notion of ‘terrorism’ has been exploited by governments for the censorship of free media outlets.
Although the notions of terrorism and provocation are not defined, since February 2015 French law has been allowing the disappearing of sites or of texts without due process, based upon a simple request by police administration. It is the first time that these measures are being wielded against alternative media outlets belonging to anti-authoritarian circles. Both sites targeted by the authorities’ threats decided to take down the responsibility claim. The moderating collectives of each of the two sites explain themselves in two distinct texts ( Indymedia Grenoble Indymedia Nantes ).
For years, the sites in the Indymedia network have, among other things, lent visibility to the political nature of direct action. This new attack against free media outlets seeks to silence radical political opposition, and to criminalize the collectives and individuals who would communicate their political objectives without the distorting filter of traditional media outlets.