Independent Media Center (a.k.a. IndyMedia or IMC) is a loose international network of far-left news websites that international legal authorities accuse of promoting violence in pursuit of anti-globalist and anti-capitalist positions. U.S., Swiss, British, and other European authorities have all taken legal action against affiliated IMC sites for promoting violence.* “US seizes independent media sites,” BBC News, October 11, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3732718.stm.x
In 2004, the FBI shut down 20 U.S.-based IndyMedia sites at the request of European police, though the exact reason was not made clear to journalists.* “US seizes independent media sites,” BBC News, October 11, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3732718.stm.x European far-left militant groups such as Greece’s Revolutionary Self-Defense have used Indymedia websites to post claims of responsibility for terrorist attacks.* “Guerrilla group claims responsibility for attack at French embassy in Athens,” Reuters, November 14, 2016, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-france-diplomacy-attack/guerrilla-group-claims-responsibility-for-attack-at-french-embassy-in-athens-idUSKBN1392M6.x In December 2014, Nikos Maziotis, the jailed leader of Greek guerilla group Revolutionary Struggle, posted a document on IndyMedia entitled “Elections are not the answer, armed struggle is.”* “Greek Police Fear Politicians, Judges Targets,” National Herald, December 16, 2014, https://www.thenationalherald.com/69107/greek-police-fear-politicians-judges-now-terrorist-next-targets/.x The German government linked IMC’s Germany platform, Linksunten.indymedia.org, to violent protests at the 2017 G20 summit and shut down the site for “sowing hate against different opinions and representatives of the country.”* Ben Knight, “Interior Ministry shuts down, raids left-wing German Indymedia site,” Deutsche Welle, August 25, 2017, https://www.dw.com/en/interior-ministry-shuts-down-raids-left-wing-german-indymedia-site/a-40232965; Chloe Farand and Jon Stone, “Germany bans far-left extremist online platform accused of inciting violence at G20 summit in Hamburg,” Independent (London), August 25, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-far-left-extremists-g20-summit-hamburg-violence-incite-online-platform-linksunten-a7913066.html.x In December 2017, IndyMedia posted pictures of 54 German police officers in response to a police investigation of the G20 protests earlier that year. The authors asked for information regarding where the officers lived or “could be met privately.”* “Far-left post photos of police officers online, leading to accusation of ‘terrorism,’” The Local, December 18, 2017, https://www.thelocal.de/20171218/far-left-lash-out-at-police-by-posting-photos-of-them-online.x In January 2019, the European far-left militant Group of Popular fighters posted a claim of responsibility for a December 17, 2018, bombing on IndyMedia.* Niki Kitsantonis, “Greek Militants Say They Bombed Media Offices to Protest ‘Capitalist’ Agenda,” New York Times, January 9, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/09/world/europe/greece-bombing-group-of-popular-fighters.html.x After banning IndyMedia in 2017, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière accused the network of inciting violence and spreading criminal content. He called the network the “most influential online platform for vicious left-wing extremists in Germany.”* Edmund Heaphy, “Germany, in a First, Shuts Down Left-Wing Extremist Website,” New York Times, August 25, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/world/europe/germany-bans-far-left-antifa-website.html.x
Each IndyMedia site is independently run. There is no leadership structure in place.
Base of Operations
IndyMedia initially launched in Seattle, Washington, but has since grown into an international network of linked-but-independent sites.* Homepage, Independent Media Center, accessed August 14, 2020, https://indymedia.org/.x
https://indymedia.org/ is the network’s primary website.
Membership Size and Relevance
The IndyMedia network has more than 60 affiliated websites around the world.* Homepage, Independent Media Center, accessed August 14, 2020, https://indymedia.org/.x
Recruitment and Propaganda
IndyMedia bills itself as “a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth.” * “About IndyMedia,” Independent Media Center, accessed November 20, 2018, https://indymedia.org/en/static/about.shtml.x The main IndyMedia site allows visitors to publish content.
IndyMedia itself has not executed violent attacks, but the network stands accused of fomenting violence through propaganda, primarily in Europe. For example, after violent protests at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in August 2017, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière accused IndyMedia of mobilizing violent protesters. Germany banned IndyMedia soon after.* Edmund Heaphy, “Germany, in a First, Shuts Down Left-Wing Extremist Website,” New York Times, August 25, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/world/europe/germany-bans-far-left-antifa-website.html.x IndyMedia website continue to post calls for rioting and criminal acts.* Simon Osborne, “Far left extremists urge riots, looting and violent uprising amid coronavirus chaos,” Express (London), March 19, 2020, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1257518/coronavirus-germany-far-left-extremists-riot-looting-violence.x Violent far-left groups have also used the IndyMedia platforms to publicize their own violent activities. For example, French anarchist group Révolte Anarchiste des Gendarmes Exilés (Anarchist Revolt Against Exiled Gendarmes) claimed responsibility on a French IndyMedia site for an arson attack on a police parking lot in September 2017.* Henry Samuel, “Ultra-Left group torch 50 police vehicles on day of anti-Macron protests,” Telegraph (London), September 21, 2017, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/21/ultra-left-group-torch-50-police-vehicles-day-anti-macron-protests/.x
- Statement on state oppression of Indymedia sites, September 28, 2017: “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. This attack must also be viewed in light of the raids that, this week, targeted the anti-nuclear activists at Bure. Their computers, along with the photocopier that they had been using to print flyers were seized by the police. All means seem to have been mobilized to repress the autonomous expression of movements of struggle.”* “State Repression Against IMC Grenoble and IMC Nantes,” Independent Media Center, September 28, 2017, https://indymedia.org/or/2017/09/988319.shtml.x
- Statement on the German government shutdown of Linksunten Indymedia, August 28, 2017: “On August 25, the German government raided and shut down Linksunten Indymedia, an integral part of the global Independent Media Center network, and the most widely used German-language platform for radical politics and organizing. In Freiburg, riot police seized computers and harassed those they accuse of maintaining the site, justifying their actions on the grounds that the alleged administrators constitute an illegal organization intent on destroying the German Constitution. This represents a massive escalation in state repression against what the authorities call ‘left-wing extremism,’ disingenuously suggesting an equivalence between those who seek to build communities beyond the reach of state violence and Neo-Nazis organizing to carry out attacks and murders.”* “GERMAN GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN LINKSUNTEN INDYMEDIA: WHAT IT MEANS AND WHAT TO DO,” Independent Media Center, August 28, 2017, https://indymedia.org/or/2017/08/988264.shtml.x