The following is the text of a letter I sent to the editor of the Irish Times on the 11th March, 2005. To my knowledge, the Irish Times didn’t publish it.
The Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven and the Birmingham Six were all imprisoned for lengthy sentences on terrorist charges that were eventually shown to have been false.
In November 2004, at the behest of the Governments of Italy and Switzerland, the FBI raided the data centre of the Indymedia organisation in the UK, under the pretence of a counter-terrorism investigation. The disks confiscated appear to have contained information relating to Indymedia’s investigations of Italian and Swiss police agents who are alleged to have been attempting to stir-up violence during so-called anti-globalisation protests.
In March of 2004, Adam McGaughey, of the fan website SG1Archive.com was charged with breaking U.S. federal copyright laws. The USA PATRIOT Act was used to facilitate the FBI investigation. Intended as a measure to protect the public from terrorist threats, the USA PATRIOT Act allows investigators to operate in ways that would be prohibited under other legislation. Its measures are, one by one, being invalidated as being counter to the US Constitution. Yet, the provisions were used to investigate a copyright case, and at the behest of MGM and the Motion Picture Association of America.
In 1996, the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) demanded royalty money from, among others, Girl Scouts for singing songs around campfires.