In a search for the author of a blog German authorities disavowed, German police raided and ransacked the homes of several directors of the anonymity non-profit “Torservers.net.”
Here is the non-profit’s own press release: link.
The organization stated that the following had not been impacted by the raid:
- any Torservers related infrastructure:
- Tor relays, mail servers, web servers
- any of Riseup’s infrastructure (because we have nothing to do with that)
- cryptoparty.in or other cryptoparty related infrastructure
- PGP keys, SSH keys, OTR keys etc
But, if you’ve ever donated money, German police likely have your information, the nonprofit wrote.
Despite our protests, they additionally seized all printed documents relating to our own and partner projects since the inception of the association in 2011.
This includes highly sensitive personal data of donors, identities of activists that received reimbursements or payments, and a list of our members.
If you have ever donated to Torservers, or Tails or Riseup via a European bank transaction, your data is very likely now in the hands of the German police. (IBAN account number, name of account holder, amount and date)”
And below is a translated German news article with detailed coverage.
At the behest of the Munich Attorney General, the rooms of the Dresdner Verein Zwiebelfreunde and the apartments of members of the board of directors in Berlin, Dresden, Augsburg and Jena were searched on 20 June. In addition to hard drives, mobile phones and computer technology, police officers also seized a number of documents, such as donation receipts and membership lists from previous years. The Augsburg premises of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) were also searched.
The broad-based police action raises issues of proportionality. The Munich Attorney General is looking for the authors of the blog “Augsburg for riot tourists,” in which was called for violent protests against the AfD federal party last weekend. The anonymous blog operators published an e-mail address to contact them, which was set up at the US engineering collective RiseUp.
For many years, the association Zwiebelfreunde has been collecting donations for alternative and non-commercial providers whose confidential communication services are used by social movements worldwide. That’s obviously the only reason why the German investigators went so far against the club.
Search in the early morning
Two weeks ago, shortly after six o’clock, the apartment door of co-founder and board member of Onion Friends, Moritz Bartl, rang in Augsburg. The investigators informed Bartl that they wanted to find out the identities of the initiators of the blog. They took according to Bartls but not only equipment and documents of the association with, but also equipment and documents of his company and personal belongings of family members.
“Normal work has not been possible since then,” says Bartl, who is not considered a defendant in the trial, but merely as a witness – like all other searchers. “I had to take a vacation, we are still trying to process what happened.”
“A call from the prosecutor could have clarified all this”
Bartl can not explain the massive actions of the police: “As experts for anonymization and encryption, we are regularly invited by police authorities as speakers.A call the prosecutor could have clarified all this.”
The onion friends have founded in 2011, the association operates so-called Tor-knot, which serve for the anonymization in Tor network. Its members hold lectures and workshops on data security, encryption and anonymization. They have also been working with NGOs like Reporters Without Borders for years. The Dresden Institute for Data Protection , which advises companies and authorities, is a cooperation partner of the association.
Founder Bartl therefore suspects completely different motives of the authorities: “The extensive confiscations, including documents of uninvolved projects, reinforce the impression that information should be collected here about the CCC Augsburg, our association and supporters.”
According to SPIEGEL information, only documents and data media that are not older than January 2018 should be confiscated. In fact, the seized documents go back to the year 2011 – which, according to participants, was also apparent to the officials.
“The search of witnesses is absolutely disproportionate”
Constanze Kurz, spokeswoman for the Chaos Computer Club, who has been working closely with Zwiebelfreunden for years, strongly criticizes the authorities’ actions: “The search for witnesses is absolutely disproportionate, people are treated like criminals and only collect donations.”
She emphasizes that data of the CCC are also affected because documents of the executive committee in Augsburg were seized. “The case is a prime example of how exaggerated police action has a massive impact on people’s lives and work,” says Kurz.
The police did not want to comment on SPIEGEL’s request. The Attorney General’s office Munich informed that the persons concerned by the search were not suspicious and that the evaluation of the confiscated computers and data media continued.
Curiously, a scene appears during the search of Bartl’s project OpenLab in Augsburg: On a board, the officials found chemical formulas in the same room various chemicals. Immediately they took all those present, including Bartl, into custody and searched more rooms.
In a very short time it turned out what the detainees had already stated on the spot according to their own statement: The chemicals were commercially available accessories for 3D printing and etching of circuit boards. Also, an item from the 3D printer, in the form of a bomb, landed in a bag of forensics. On the associated label is listed as a crime “causing explosive explosions”. Incidentally, the item can be seen in action here on YouTube .