Sunday Times - Alisher Usmanov interview passes Schillings checklist for the Reynolds defence against libel

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The Sunday Times has two articles which add some details to, but which do not fully explore, the Alisher Usmanov affair and the disreputable tactics of his shysters Schillings.

It appears that the rich Uzbek has secretly owned Sutton Place for the past 3 years or so, which is located between Guildford and Woking in Surrey, which was formerly owned by US oil billionaire Jean Paul Getty and son. When J.P.Getty was in residence, Sutton Place had the nucleus of the fine art collection which has now become the J.Paul Getty Museum in California, which is richly endowed enough to outbid almost any other museum in the world for artworks.- Getty mansion gives up secret of new owner

This news should depress the property values of the nearby Sutton Place Farm luxury housing development - would you really want the extra security risk posed by a neighbour like Alisher Usmanov, with his bodyguards and enemies ?

The second article is an attempt to present a sanitised version of Alisher Usmanov's history. - Arsenal billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, recalls six years in penal colony

We do not begrudge the author Mark Franchetti having lunch with Usmanov at his country estate near Moscow, but, given the number of other UK journalists who have been flown to Moscow in Usmanov's private corporate jet, and put up at a luxury hotel, we wonder if The Sunday Times paid for the travel expenses for this trip or not.

Usmanov confirms that he was indeed in prison for 6 years, just as Craig Murray alleged.

Why did neither Usmanov, nor Schillings post his explanation of the alleged circumstances of this criminal conviction on Craig Murray's blog, or on their own website(s) ?

This bit of the interview is revealing:

The three young men were sentenced by a military court to eight years for fraud and embezzlement of state property. revealing that they were jailed despite being the children of high-ranking officials demonstrated that the charges were politically motivated, Usmanov said.

"If I'd really committed a crime, my father, as deputy prosecutor, was sufficiently influential to have spared me an eight-year sentence. He couldn't come to my rescue because the charges were trumped up for political reasons."

The idea of a deputy prosecutor having any influence whatsoever in a case involving his own son, is an utter anathema to us here in the United Kingdom, and just shows the depth of corruption which Usmanov obviously still considers to be normal behaviour.

Also, there is confirmation of Usmanov's long time friendship with some close aides of Vladimir Putin:

He also became close friends with fellow students Sergei Yastrzhembsky and Sergei Prikhodko, both now aides to Putin, and was later a pupil of Yevgeny Primakov, who went on to head Russia's foreign intelligence service and was subsequently appointed foreign minister and prime minister.

Note that there is no mention of Usmanov's financial and political links with Islam Karimov the brutal dictator of Uzbekistan and his nepotistic family.

Craig Murray, whose book and blog comments, as the former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan started set off this affair, is not impressed with this interview: - Mark Franchetti Fills His Stomach and Switches Off His Brain

Presumably, from Alisher Usmaonov's viewpoint, this interview does pass the Schillings ten point checklist for the Reynolds defence against libel (download link to a file which you will have to rename with a .pdf extension - such internet expertise - doh !) which they urge their potential corporate clients to

"Keep a copy on your wall for quick reference if a journalist calls. If a journalist calls, challenge their ability to meet each point on the list."

  IssueMeaning  What next?
 1 Gravity

 If the allegation is serious and untrue, the public is more gravely misinformed and the individual or corporate more seriously harmed.

If grave, more responsibility required.

 Convince the journalist of the seriousness of the allegation - this makes it all the more important that they meet the other points.
 2 Of public interest

 The nature of the information and the extent to which the subject is a matter of public interest and concern.

Not the same as 'Interesting'

 Distinguish between stories the public are interested in and the real test of public interest - whether the story is properly a matter for public debate. There is no public interest in gossip, rumour or speculation.
 3 Sources

The source of the information.

Some informants have no direct knowledge of the events. Some have an axe to grind, or are being paid for their stories.

Independent or axe to grind?

 If the source is not independent, you can delay by pointing this out and suggesting the need for verification by independent sources.

One source is rarely enough.

 4 Verification What steps have been taken to check the truth and reliability of the source and the story?

Important if single or axe-grinding source

 Ask what steps have been taken to verify the story. Other similar sources should be interviewed. Tell them who they should speak to.
 5 Status

 The allegation may have already been the subject of an investigation which commands respect.

Is it a bare allegation or an authoritative finding?

 Journalists need to take great care with gossip or innuendo. Demand that the story is verified by a number of reliable sources. Ask if they can prove the allegation is true.
 6 Urgency

 The urgency of the matter. This must be real. 

Never means their print deadline or desire for a scoop.

 Ask the reason for urgency eg is it a time-sensitive food scare and product recall?
 7 Comment

 Whether comment was sought from the subject. 

The journalist must put the story to the subject to get their side.

 This is why the journalist is calling you. They should wait for your answer. You control the timing now, not them.
 8 Gist

 Whether the article contained the gist of the subject's story.

They must publish your version/side.

 This is why they should report exactly what you tell them you want published. It's also why you should not refuse to comment and why you should tell them what you want said 'on the record'.
 9 Tone

 The tone of the article. A newspaper can raise queries or call for an investigation. It need not adopt allegations as statements of fact.

Is the article sensational or is it neutrally reported?

 Ask them to read you what they have written or are proposing to write.
 10 Circumstance The circumstances of the publication, including the timing. This is a catch-all section - use it to point out any other reasons why the journalist has not acted responsibly.

Incredibly [via Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair] Schillings are still trying to portray themselves as some sort of experts at defending public reputations in the online world, with this free seminar aimed at corporate in-house lawyers next Wednesday 24th October. at Halsbury House, 35 Chancery Lane, London.

This is set to be chaired by

  • Rod Christie-Miller Partner, Schillings rod.christie-miller@schillings.co.uk
with speakers

  • Rachel Atkins, Partner, Schillings rachel.atkins@schillings.co.uk
  • John Kelly, Partner, Schillings john.kelly@schillings.co.uk
  • Jenny Afia, Associate, Schillings jenny.afia@schillings.co.uk

who will apparently talk about their alleged expertise on topics such as:

Effectively utilising the available legal tools:

Strategically employing injunctions

N.B. there have been no court injunctions granted or even a "Claim Form (the new word for Writ)" submitted to start legal proceedings, only shyster threats by Schillings to the web hosting company Fasthosts and to some blog and discussion forum sites.

Exploiting the Reynolds Defence Outing anonymous attackers

New Threats and how to protect against them:

The lawless internet Blogs and other social media [...]

Does anyone fancy a late morning / lunchtime session at the nearby Blue Anchor public house, to discuss the real extent of Schillings internet ineptitude and just how counterproductive their shyster tactics have been ?

Matt Wardman has quantified and blogged about the public relations disaster which Schillings have produced for their client, because of the collateral damage to innocent blogs which their threats have induced.

2 Comments

The actual legal precedent setting House of Lords judgement in Reynolds v. Times Newspapers Limited and Other is available online.

Very very interesting. Thank you for pointing me to it. This would at least explain why no "on-line reputation management" types have ever mentioned the names here to me.

Leave a comment

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This United Kingdom based blog attempts to draw public attention to, and comments on, some of the current trends in ever cheaper and more widespread surveillance technology being deployed to satisfy the rapacious demand by state and corporate bureaucracies and criminals for your private details, and the technological ignorance of our politicians and civil servants who frame our legal systems.

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Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders manual, by Irish NGO Frontline Defenders.

Everyone’s Guide to By-Passing Internet Censorship for Citizens Worldwide (.pdf - 31 pages), by the Citizenlab at the University of Toronto.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents - March 2008 version - (2.2 Mb - 80 pages .pdf) by Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics by Human Rights Watch.

A Practical Security Handbook for Activists and Campaigns (v 2.6) (.doc - 62 pages), by experienced UK direct action political activists

Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress & Tor - useful step by step guide with software configuration screenshots by Ethan Zuckerman at Global Voices Advocacy. (updated March 10th 2009 with the latest Tor / Vidalia bundle details)

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Identity Project report by the London School of Economics
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Digital Rights Ireland - legal case against mandatory EU Comms Data Retention etc.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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No. 10 Downing Street Prime Minister's Official Spindoctors

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UK Statute Law Database - is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online, but it is not yet up to date.

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Read The Bills Act - USA proposal to force politicians to actually read the legislation that they are voting for, something which is badly needed in the UK Parliament.

Bichard Inquiry delving into criminal records and "soft intelligence" policies highlighted by the Soham murders. (taken offline by the Home Office)

ACPO - Association of Chief Police Officers - England, Wales and Northern Ireland
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Online Media

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Need To Know [now defunct]

The Register

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Ideal Government - debate about UK eGovernment

NIR and ID cards

Stand - email and fax campaign on ID Cards etc. [Now defunct]. The people who supported stand.org.uk have gone on to set up other online tools like WriteToThem.com. The Government's contemptuous dismissal of over 5,000 individual responses via the stand.org website to the Home Office public consultation on Entitlement Cards is one of the factors which later led directly to the formation of the the NO2ID Campaign who have been marshalling cross party opposition to Labour's dreadful National Identity Register compulsory centralised national biometric database and ID Card plans, at the expense of simpler, cheaper, less repressive, more effective, nore secure and more privacy friendly alternative identity schemes.

NO2ID - opposition to the Home Office's Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID bulletin board discussion forum

Home Office Identity Cards website
No compulsory national Identity Cards (ID Cards) BBC iCan campaign site
UK ID Cards blog
NO2ID press clippings blog
CASNIC - Campaign to STOP the National Identity Card.
Defy-ID active meetings and protests in Glasgow
www.idcards-uk.info - New Alliance's ID Cards page
irefuse.org - total rejection of any UK ID Card

International Civil Aviation Organisation - Machine Readable Travel Documents standards for Biometric Passports etc.
Anti National ID Japan - controversial and insecure Jukinet National ID registry in Japan
UK Biometrics Working Group run by CESG/GCHQ experts etc. the UK Government on Biometrics issues feasability
Citizen Information Project feasability study population register plans by the Treasury and Office of National Statistics

CommentOnThis.com - comments and links to each paragraph of the Home Office's "Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme".

De-Materialised ID - "The voluntary alternative to material ID cards, A Proposal by David Moss of Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL)" - well researched analysis of the current Home Office scheme, and a potentially viable alternative.

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CameraWatch - independent UK CCTV industry lobby group - like us, they also want more regulation of CCTV surveillance systems.

Every Step You Take a documentary about CCTV surveillance in the Uk by Austrian film maker Nino Leitner.

Transport for London an attempt at a technological panopticon - London Congestion Charge, London Low-Emission Zone, Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, tens of thousands of CCTV cameras on buses, thousands of CCTV cameras on London Underground, realtime road traffic CCTV, Iyster smart cards - all handed over to the Metropolitan Police for "national security" purposes, in real time, in bulk, without any public accountibility, for secret data mining, exempt from even the usual weak protections of the Data Protection Act 1998.

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Surpriv: RFID Surveillance and Privacy
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RFIDBuzz.com blog - where we sometimes crosspost RFID articles

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DNA Profiles - analysis by Paul Nutteing
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Postnote February 2006 Number 258 - National DNA Database (.pdf) - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/5 (.pdf) - published by the NDNAD Board and ACPO.

Eeclaim Your DNA from Britain's National DNA Database - model letters and advice on how to have your DNA samples and profiles removed from the National DNA Database,in spite of all of the nureacratic obstacles which try to prevent this, even if you are innocent.

Miscellanous Links

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The BUPA Seven - whistleblowers badly let down by the system.

Tax Credit Overpayment - the near suicidal despair inflicted on poor, vulnerable people by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown's disasterous Inland Revenue IT system.

Fassit UK - resources and help for those abused by the Social Services Childrens Care bureaucracy

Former Spies

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Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

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e-nsecure.net blog - Comments on IT security and Privacy or the lack thereof.
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David Mery - falsely arrested on the London Tube - you could be next.

James Hammerton
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Liberty Central

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Kim Cameron - Microsoft's Identity Architect
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Boris Johnson Conservative MP for Henley
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Database Masterclass - frequently asked questions and answers about the several centralised national databases of children in the UK.

Shaphan

Moving On

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Al-Muhajabah's Sundries - anglophile blog

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rabenhorst - Kai Billen (mostly in German)

Nearly Perfect Privacy - Tiffany and Morpheus

Iain Dale's Diary - a popular Conservative political blog

Brit Watch - Public Surveillance in the UK - Web - Email - Databases - CCTV - Telephony - RFID - Banking - DNA

BLOGDIAL

MySecured.com - smart mobile phone forensics, information security, computer security and digital forensics by a couple of Australian researchers

Ralph Bendrath

Financial Cryptography - Ian Grigg et al.

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Big Brother State - "a small act of resistance" to the "sustained and systematic attack on our personal freedom, privacy and legal system"

HosReport - "Crisis. Conspiraciones. Enigmas. Conflictos. Espionaje." - Carlos Eduardo Hos (in Spanish)

"Give 'em hell Pike!" - Frank Fisher

Corruption-free Anguilla - Good Governance and Corruption in Public Office Issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla in the West Indies - Don Mitchell CBE QC

geeklawyer - intellectual property, civil liberties and the legal system

PJC Journal - I am not a number, I am a free Man - The Prisoner

Charlie's Diary - Charlie Stross

The Caucus House - blog of the Chicago International Model United Nations

Famous for 15 Megapixels

Postman Patel

The 4th Bomb: Tavistock Sq Daniel's 7:7 Revelations - Daniel Obachike

OurKingdom - part of OpenDemocracy - " will discuss Britain’s nations, institutions, constitution, administration, liberties, justice, peoples and media and their principles, identity and character"

Beau Bo D'Or blog by an increasingly famous digital political cartoonist.

Between Both Worlds - "Thoughts & Ideas that Reflect the Concerns of Our Conscious Evolution" - Kingsley Dennis

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair - the rich Uzbek businessman and his shyster lawyers Schillings really made a huge counterproductive error in trying to censor the blogs of Tim Ireland, of all people.

Matt Wardman political blog analysis

Henry Porter on Liberty - a leading mainstream media commentator and opinion former who is doing more than most to help preserve our freedom and liberty.

HMRC is shite - "dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of the HMRC, who have to endure the monumental shambles that is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."

Head of Legal - Carl Gardner a former legal advisor to the Government

The Landed Underclass - Voice of the Banana Republic of Great Britain

Henrik Alexandersson - Swedish blogger threatened with censorship by the Försvarets Radioanstalt (FRA), the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishement, their equivalent of the UK GCHQ or the US NSA.

World's First Fascist Democracy - blog with link to a Google map - "This map is an attempt to take a UK wide, geographical view, of both the public and the personal effect of State sponsored fear and distrust as seen through the twisted technological lens of petty officials and would be bureaucrats nationwide."

Blogoir - Charles Crawford - former UK Ambassodor to Poland etc.

No CCTV - The Campaign against CCTV

Barcode Nation - keeping two eyes on the database state.

Lords of the Blog - group blog by half a dozen or so Peers sitting in the House of Lords.

notes from the ubiquitous surveillance society - blog by Dr. David Murakami Wood, editor of the online academic journal Surveillance and Society

Justin Wylie's political blog

Panopticon blog - by Timothy Pitt-Payne and Anya Proops. Timothy Pitt-Payne is probably the leading legal expert on the UK's Freedom of Information Act law, often appearing on behlaf of the Information Commissioner's Office at the Information Tribunal.

Armed and Dangerous - Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life’s simple pleasures… - by Open Source Software advocate Eric S. Raymond.

Georgetown Security Law Brief - group blog by the Georgetown Law Center on National Security and the Law , at Georgtown University, Washington D.C, USA.

Big Brother Watch - well connected with the mainstream media, this is a campaign blog by the TaxPayersAlliance, which thankfully does not seem to have spawned Yet Another Campaign Organisation as many Civil Liberties groups had feared.

Spy on Moseley - "Sparkbrook, Springfield, Washwood Heath and Bordesley Green. An MI5 Intelligence-gathering operation to spy on Muslim communities in Birmingham is taking liberties in every sense" - about 150 ANPR CCTV cameras funded by Home Office via the secretive Terrorism and Allied Matters (TAM) section of ACPO.

FitWatch blog - keeps an eye on the activities of some of the controversial Police Forward Intelligence Teams, who supposedly only target "known troublemakers" for photo and video surveillance, at otherwise legal, peaceful protests and demonstrations.

Other Links

Spam Huntress - The Norwegian Spam Huntress - Ann Elisabeth

Fuel Crisis Blog - Petrol over £1 per litre ! Protest !
Mayor of London Blog
London Olympics 2012 - NO !!!!

Cool Britannia

NuLabour

Free Gary McKinnon - UK citizen facing extradition to the USA for "hacking" over 90 US Military computer systems.

Parliament Protest - information and discussion on peaceful resistance to the arbitrary curtailment of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, in the excessive Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Designated Area around Parliament Square in London.

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UK Legislation

The United Kingdom suffers from tens of thousands of pages of complicated criminal laws, and thousands of new, often unenforceable criminal offences, which have been created as a "Pretend to be Seen to Be Doing Something" response to tabloid media hype and hysteria, and political social engineering dogmas. These overbroad, catch-all laws, which remove the scope for any judicial appeals process, have been rubber stamped, often without being read, let alone properly understood, by Members of Parliament.

The text of many of these Acts of Parliament are now online, but it is still too difficult for most people, including the police and criminal justice system, to work out the cumulative effect of all the amendments, even for the most serious offences involving national security or terrorism or serious crime.

Many MPs do not seem to bother to even to actually read the details of the legislation which they vote to inflict on us.

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UK Commissioners

UK Commissioners some of whom are meant to protect your privacy and investigate abuses by the bureaucrats.

UK Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence and Security Committee - the supposedly independent Parliamentary watchdog which issues an annual, heavily censored Report every year or so. Currently chaired by the Conservative Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Why should either the intelligence agencies or the public trust this committee, when the untrustworthy ex-Labour Minister Hazel Blears is a member ?

Anti-terrorism hotline - links removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

MI5 Security Service
MI5 Security Service - links to encrypted reporting form removed in protest at the Climate of Fear propaganda posters

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Secure Your Fertiliser - advice on ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser security

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Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure - "CPNI provides expert advice to the critical national infrastructure on physical, personnel and information security, to protect against terrorism and other threats."

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Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruitment.

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Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ

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Serious Organised Crime Agency - have cut themselves off from direct contact with the public and businesses - no phone - no email

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Defence Advisory (DA) Notice system - voluntary self censorship by the established UK press and broadcast media regarding defence and intelligence topics via the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee.

Foreign Spies / Intelliegence Agencies in the UK

It is not just the UK government which tries to snoop on British companies, organisations and individuals, the rest of the world is constantly trying to do the same, regardless of the mixed efforts of our own UK Intelligence Agencies who are paid to supposedly protect us from them.

For no good reason, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only keeps the current version of the London Diplomatic List of accredited Diplomats (including some Foreign Intelligence Agency operatives) online.

Presumably every mainstream media organisation, intelligence agency, serious organised crime or terrorist gang keeps historical copies, so here are some older versions of the London Diplomatic List, for the benefit of web search engine queries, for those people who do not want their visits to appear in the FCO web server logfiles or those whose censored internet feeds block access to UK Government websites.

Campaign Button Links

Watching Them, Watching Us - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond
Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution - Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Save Parliament: Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)
Save Parliament - Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (and other issues)

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Open Rights Group

The Big Opt Out Campaign - opt out of having your NHS Care Record medical records and personal details stored insecurely on a massive national centralised database.

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves."

Tor - the onion routing network
Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor - useful Guide published by Global Voices Advocacy with step by step software configuration screenshots (updated March 10th 2009).

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Amnesty International's irrepressible.info campaign

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Home Office Watch blog, "a single repository of all the shambolic errors and mistakes made by the British Home Office compiled from Parliamentary Questions, news reports, and tip-offs by the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs team."

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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Committee to Protect Bloggers - "devoted to the protection of bloggers worldwide with a focus on highlighting the plight of bloggers threatened and imprisoned by their government."

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Icelanders are NOT terrorists ! - despite Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's use of anti-terrorism legislation to seize the assets of Icelandic banks.

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No CCTV - The Campaign Against CCTV

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I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist !

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Power 2010 cross party, political reform campaign

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Cracking the Black Box - "aims to expose technology that is being used in inappropriate ways. We hope to bring together the insights of experts and whistleblowers to shine a light into the dark recesses of systems that are responsible for causing many of the privacy problems faced by millions of people."

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Open Rights Group - Petition against the renewal of the Interception Modernisation Programme

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WhistleblowersUK.org - Fighting for justice for whistleblowers