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Net censorship

by proffr@fuckmicrosoft.com Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2001 at 1:48 PM

trial update as stolen from wired ace reporter,declan mc culogh.


Cypherpunk's Free Speech Defense

by Declan McCullagh (declan@wired.com)

2:00 a.m. Apr. 9, 2001 PDT

TACOMA, Washington -- Jim Bell took the witness stand in federal court

on Friday to argue he was attempting to document illegal behavior, not

stalk government agents.

Bell described his electronic research last year -- which the Justice

Department says led federal agents to fear for their safety -- as

entirely lawful and said he never intended to hurt or threaten anyone.

The 43-year-old chemist and entrepreneur freely admitted he bought

motor vehicle databases and did Internet searches on the names of

Treasury Department agents as part of his effort to uncover illegal

surveillance by the U.S. government. Bell is charged with five federal

counts of interstate stalking, and the jury trial began last Tuesday.

A key part of the government's case against Bell is a political essay

he wrote titled "Assassination Politics," a thought experiment which

advocates a method to slaughter miscreant federal officials using

anonymous remailers, digital cash, and the Internet.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robb London said that since Bell has refused

to renounce his beliefs incorporated into that essay, he should be

viewed as a menace to society. London said Bell's research into

personal information about agents was an "obsessive campaign by an

individual to harass them."

"Mr. Bell was posting things publicly on the Internet," London said.

"You can't go out there and do this stuff and think there's no chance

your victims will find out."

This case raises the question of what actions are protected by the

First Amendment's guarantees of free expression and what crosses the

line and becomes illegal harassment.

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