UK police seize computers of skeptic blogger in England

UPDATE: 12/21/11 4PM  -BBC covers Tallbloke, finally, Richard Black still silent-  Norfolk constabulary to share hand-off Climategate investigation, and  Greg Laden caves – see below

Dec 14th -The first blogger to break the Climategate2 story has had a visit from the police and has had his computers seized. Tallbloke’s Talkshop first reported on CG2 due to the timing of the release being overnight in the USA. Today he was raided by six UK police (Norfolk Constabulary and Metropolitan police) and several of his computers were seized as evidence. He writes:

After surveying my ancient stack of Sun Sparcstations and PII 400 pc’s, they ended up settling for two laptops and an adsl broadband router. I’m blogging this post via my mobile.

That means his cellphone. In his blog report are all the details. including actions in the US involving WordPress and the US Department of Justice. Jeff Id at The Air Vent also has a report here.

Strange and troubling that they’d seize his computers for comments dropped onto a US service (wordpress.com) from the cloud. There wouldn’t be any record on his PC’s of the event from FOIA’s placing comments, that would be in the wordpress.com server logs.

Either there’s more than meets the eye or they have no idea how the blog system works.

UPDATE: I’ve been in contact with Roger (Tallbloke) and he tells me that he is not a suspect, and that they’ll clone his hard drives and return the computers to him. – Anthony

UPDATE2: 12/15/9AM It seems that the story has gone viral on blogs. Four skeptic blogs are in the top ten of all WordPress blogs today. While I’ve seen 2 at a time on CG1 and CG2, four has never happened before. This is from my wordpress.com dashboard:

From top to bottom, WUWT, The Air Vent, Tallbloke’s Talkshop, Climate Audit.

UPDATE3: Delingpole in the Telegraph thinks its going to escalate

UPDATE4: Horner in The Washington Examiner weighs in

UPDATE5: The Guardian picks up on the story here

UPDATE6: Jo Nova suggests it is a form of intimidation

UPDATE7: Josh weighs in with two cartoons

UPDATE8: Greg Laden on Scienceblogs accuses Tallbloke of being a “criminal” – a claim really over the line and over the top. Clearly this is outside of the Code of Conduct for Scienceblogs.com  (contact page here) Of course, after reading the rant of hate this man has for anyone not like him, especially Americans in some states, I suppose it’s just another day for him. Update: I sent off a complaint to the editors of Sb about this, and it appears that Laden has been asked to remove the libelous language, though the post remains as does his hateful attitude in comments.

UPDATE9: Lord Monckton to pursue fraud charges against Climategate scientists: Will present to police the case for ‘numerous specific instances of scientific or economic fraud’

Monckton: ‘I have begun drafting a memorandum for prosecuting authorities…to establish…the existence of numerous specific instances of scientific or economic fraud in relation to the official ‘global warming’ storyline…they will act, for that is what the law requires them to do’

Story at ClimateDepot here

UPDATE10: More than a couple of people have asked me about computer security in the last couple of days, especially after the Tallbloke raid incident.

I’m offering a simple security solution for those that want to protect their files: a USB flash drive with built in hardware security. See it here

UPDATE11: A copy of the search warrant can be seen at Climate Audit

UPDATE 12: The BBC’s Richard Black is silent, probably because he can’t “… find an angle that will allow the BBC to maintain the usual warmists good, sceptics bad holding pattern”.

UPDATE13: Tallbloke apparently is going to take legal action against ScienceBlogs and blogger Greg Laden over his libelous article (now modified to not be libelous) accusing Tallbloke of being involved in criminal activity, and is soliciting barristers. Laden says on his blog in comments:

“I think he’s a criminal for being a climate denialist. Sue me. “

Looks like Greg Laden will get his wish.

UPDATE14: Rep Markey has an “off with their heads” moment, Jeff Id explains how the connections being made are preposterous.

UPDATE15: Tallbloke has decided to take the libel issue with Laden to tort. A letter from his attorney is posted.

UPDATE16: Planetsave makes another libel with the headline: “Criminal Who Manufactured Climategate Caught?” The clueless writer, Zachary Shahan, is about as far away from understanding journalism as anyone I’ve seen. He’s in for a nasty surprise as Tallbloke has added him to the tort list.

UPDATE18: UK cartoonist “Fenbeagle” has done up a Star Wars parody in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back. Mike Mann, Phil Jones, Jawas, and a Wookie are featured.

UPDATE19: Tom Nelson points out that Laden seems to have caved to impending legal action: Warmist Greg Laden: Did I say that tallbloke is a criminal? I meant he’s not a criminal. Details here

UPDATE20: Tallbloke reflects on the solstice and says that questions are starting to be asked in the UK.

UPDATE21: Tallbloke reports that:

In a sudden new development, your correspondent has learned that Norfolk Constabulary have decided that climategate is too big for them to handle. According to an un-named source, they intend to hand over the inquiry to another force.

This follows on the heels of a ‘request for a contact’ at Norfolk Constabulary by Lord Christopher Monckton in connection with his intention to have the police investigate  revelations in the ‘climategate’ emails placed in the public domain.

UPDATE22: Donna LeFramboise writes in the Financial Post:

This is all rather chilling. It appears that being the proprietor of a blog in which strangers leave links pointing to material on third-party websites now exposes one to being raided by the police.

UPDATE23: The BBC finally gets around to covering the seizure episode almost a week later, unsurprisingly, the very biased Richard Black isn’t the reporter.

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Latitude

or they have no idea how the blog system works.
============
….thumbsup

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Isonomia

Somehow I don’t think they have a clue what they are doing.

JEM

Alright, where’s the decryption key for the rest…

theduke

The UK press needs to start demanding answers fast. First question: what is he suspected of?

AdderW

Stashing up on popcorn, will the password phrase to the next load of emails soon be presented, oh the merry musings …

Interstellar Bill

Hie thee to the Cloud! What will they confiscate then?

Sounds like they are grasping at straws in response to pressure from the warmists that was in the media not long after the announcement of ClimateGate2.

This is truly frightening. If they can get away with this, what next?

richard verney

Ir is not clear from this post what it is alleged that the blogger did wrong.
What is the charge against him?

BradProp1

Personal experience has shown me that what cops don’t know, they lie about. And what they do know, they lie about.

albertalad

Sorry Tallbloke – perhaps the UK police aught to read YOUR Climategate 1.0 and Climategate 2.0 emails and then lay criminal charges against the East Anglia criminals instead of going after an innocence fellow. The real criminals are at East Anglia and their co-conspirators at the BBC and the Guardian.

Athelstan

Rest easy: This is mostly for show to demonstrate that the gov takes the leaks seriously. But in reality they do not really want to apprehend the culprit(s) because they would need to charge them with some crime or other. This would likely produce a ‘trial of the century’ in which the defendant would be branded as the worst criminal since (fill in the blank), while being hailed as hero by skeptics aroudn the world. Famous lawyers would rush to be chosen to defend the case. And here is the rub: The media would be forced to cover the case, and this is the last thing the gov wants.

davidmhoffer

Seems like a “show” to me. They are under pressure to investigate, and so their doing something to show their bosses that….they’re doing something.
There’s a couple of possibilities I suppose. They could suspect that Tallbloke is liberator of the CG2 emails, and they want to see if there is any evidence to that effect on his computers. Of course, anyone bright enough to liberate that many emails over that period of time and get them onto multiple blogs from a server in Russia that can’t be traced any further backward to the source, ought to be bright enough to not leave the evidence in their home laptop.
I don’t know what the law is in the UK regarding this, but I for one would have refused to allow access to my computers until I had taken a complete image of all drives and copied them to backup media under the supervision of a legal representative who would then sequester the backup copy for future reference. If the investigation turns up something “incriminating”, I’d then have the backup copy in my lawyer’s vault to refer to and ensure nothing had been changed on my computer after it left my possession.
Three years ago I would have poo poo’d the need to do something like that in regard to an investigation by a 1st world police force. Now, I’m not so certain.

dtbronzich

https://www.facebook.com/norfolkpolice?sk=wall Facebook page, if anyone is interested.

tallbloke

They were polite and promised to return the kit after cloning the disks.
They say I am not a suspect for any crime.

ChE

Somehow I don’t think they have a clue what they are doing.

Who? These guys?
http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2011/12/14/ooops-eric-holders-doj-misses-litigation-deadline-in-voting-case/#comment-217875

John Smith

They’ll “fit him up” meaning that the cops and the media and probably some sleazy politician will have arranged to frame him as a cyber terrorist. He’ll be the main suspect in the hacking of UAE and the MSM will have him convicted within a week. This is a scary scenario for him. Good luck Tall Bloke.

Leadfootin

George Orwell was only off by about 27 years!

meemoe_uk

That ….. is appalling. UK police can now steal citizen’s property. And for what? To save someone’s life in an emergency? No. For being a skeptic blogger.
Wonder if any of the AGW gang will visit Norfolk police and steal their computers.
I think since the 7/7 bombings, the UK government allows the police to do just about anything under the guise of protecting us from terrorism. Letting police terrorise citizens to save them from terrorism goes without saying.

jkp416

Hmmm … interesting times …
This could be just what’s required to spark “lame stream media” interest in ClimateGate 2.0
(To date, their silence has been deafening)

ChE

The UK press needs to start demanding answers fast. First question: what is he suspected of?

Meanwhile in the US, maybe Darryl Issa can add this to the gunrunner business next time he has Holder on the griddle?

old construction worker

Now, they’ll come for his cellphone.

So, Anthony, what was the actual timeline of the ClimateGate2 news breaking? Were the files posted somewhere, and Tallbloke happened to stumble onto it? Or did he receive a notification from someone? Do the UK police somehow suspect him of being involved in breaking into the UEA email servers, just because he blogged about the file posting first?

Actually, about 6/20ths of his computers were seized.

GreatAnarch

Search warrants require a magistrate to see evidence of some crime. Did anybody tell him what the charge was? Under an extradition treaty signed by Blair, it is enough for the US authorities to announce that they want a UK citizen arrested, and no judge has to see the evidence they may have; extradition is almost automatic. Perhaps the US Department of Justice can get a UK search warrant on the same basis?

They took away a DSL router? That would only be done by “experts” to frustrate access to the Internet.
And I would ask commentators not to refer to his mobile phone as a “cellphone”. The bloke’s not yet been incarcerated.

Robert M

Evidently the powers that be have decided that it is time to harass a few bloggers, shake a few trees, and see if any cherries fall into their grubby little clutching fingers.
Sadly, I usually respect and support the police, but in this case, I feel the chances of Tallbloke being an actual perp are smaller then Micheal Mann admitting that his hokey stick is fraud from start to finish. One wonders where the authorities are planning on going with this…

tokyoboy

Paging………. Mr. Holms and Mr. Watson

ChE

tallbloke says:
December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm
They were polite and promised to return the kit after cloning the disks.
They say I am not a suspect for any crime.

I’m glad to hear that. However. I hope you have a lawyer just in case this gets more “interesting”.

Ian W

It makes one wonder if the encrypted part of the CG2 dump is thought to contain something that would make various politicians lives difficult. Someone in authority must be in a cold sweat to bend rules like this.

Alvin

Nick, what did you do?

Nick

The only way the “Enviroalitarians”, “PoliticalCorrectnessPolice” and the supporting media interests are going to get their agenda moving to where they want it to go is to get all Orwellian.
They’re making every attempt at it.
This raid is practice and a fishing exercise I’m guessing.
How many in the raid? 8-10 Your joking?! For a computer geek with, supposedly, sources to some more nerds email’s? Nup, doesn’t work for me.
And to trace the traffic to and from a Russian server? You have to get hold of that Russian server. Good luck with that. 🙂
I’m open to be convinced otherwise, that’s what reasoned argument and evidence do, change your mind. 🙂
There’s something else going here. Dunno what, but I’m strugglin’ with “tallbloke” being FOIA.
Who’s next, though? 🙂

Craig Moore

The brown shirts have risen to strike again.

tallbloke says: December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm
Historical reference: “Yes, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”
Did they give any indication of just what it was they thought they might find? And, if you can talk about it, just what was that about the USDoJ?
Good Luck and keep in touch.

Lance of BC

You need legal advice NOW, maybe there are some members of this blog who close to you with connection to a lawyer or may be one. Not a bad idea to get the media involved also.
What could they possibly hope to achieve from this action? The documents are out of the bag now.
Good luck and stay safe.

Wayne Delbeke

So did Penn State and East Anglia get similar letters …. ? How about Realclimate?
Looks like a fishing expedition, wonder where their gear is. And who is Kendra?

Alvin

Clone them yourself when they are returned, and check them for malware and keystroke loggers. Time to change all your passwords.

I guess it was only 2 20ths of his computers.
As for the DSL router, they’re a dime a dozen. I have two spares sitting on a shelf. Routers hold no data, just access codes and linkage admin setup.

RB

As BradProp1 says – from personal experience I can say that lying comes easy to coppers. I know a police sergeant very well. Went round his house once and noticed that he had another PCs pocketbook on his kitchen table. When I asked him why it was there he told me that a case that he had dealt with along with this PC was due in court next week and he hadnt made any pocket book notes at the time of the incident so he was copying them from the PCs notebook to be prepared for court – at which hearing he no doubt answered the age old question “Were these notes made at the time of the incident” with the angelic “Yes”.
I wish you the best of luck Tallbloke – although I cannot bear the fact that a copper can come round to your house, polite or not, tell you that you are not a suspect in any crime, but still cart off your personal property. I dread to say it, but lets just see if any kiddie porn is “found” on your computer.

Big Dave

First, they came for the skeptics….
[snip – let’s keep it relevant to what actually happened – Anthony]
Cheers
Big Dave

carbon-based life form

No one expects the Mannish Inquisition…
[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY ]

Wayne Delbeke

Kendra Ervin is a University of Virginia alumnus … 6 degrees of separation or less. Has a computer science, math, economics and law degree.
Kendra Ervin
Trial Attorney, Criminal Division, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section at U.S. Department of Justice
Washington D.C. Metro Area Law Practice
Current
Trial Attorney, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section at U.S. Department of Justice
Past
Associate at Williams & Connolly
Law Clerk to the Honorable Alvin A. Schall at United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company
Education
University of Virginia School of Law
Emory University
Connections
285 connections
Kendra Ervin’s Experience
Trial Attorney, Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section
U.S. Department of Justice
August 2010 – Present (1 year 5 months)
Associate
Williams & Connolly
Partnership; 201-500 employees; Law Practice industry
October 2007 – July 2010 (2 years 10 months)
Law Clerk to the Honorable Alvin A. Schall
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Government Agency; 51-200 employees; Judiciary industry
2006 – 2007 (1 year)
Business Analyst
McKinsey & Company
Partnership; 10,001+ employees; Management Consulting industry
2001 – 2002 (1 year)
Kendra Ervin’s Education
University of Virginia School of Law
2003 – 2006
Emory University
2001, B.S. Computer Science/Math and Economics
1997 – 2001

u.k.(us)

The internet never forgets, if someone is trying to suppress information, this is possibly the worst strategy one could take.
It just feeds the fire, and puts an added focus on the rights of the accused.
Note to the investigators:
Everybody is watching, and it might be best assumed, they know/or will know the exact timeline of all communications in the course of the investigation.
Be very, very careful what you say.
Every detail will be closely examined.

danj

The DOJ, huh? I guess between lamely trying to cover their exposed tails in the “Fast and Furious” debacle and trying to prevent various states from enforcing their state laws to stem illegal immigration (which Holder’s DOJ champions) they have enough time to mess with wordpress and skeptical bloggers to attempt to give comfort to the bruised egos of The Team. I think I’ll throw up…

Alvin

DSL routers contain MAC addresses and in some cases log files showing connections.

albertalad

I do whole heartily agree with those who said – GET A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. Say NOTHING, NOTHING! And you ARE a suspect otherwise the cops would NOT have taken YOUR computers for study. For God’s sake find out your rights! Protest yourself – no one else can do that right now except YOU.

Philip Peake

@Tallbloke – Unless the law has changed drastically since I left the UK, they need a warrant to search your property and relieve you of any of the said property.
They should have given you a copy of this, and it should list the reasons for its issue.
Would be interesting to see what excuse they used.

RichieP

.. pour encourager les autres.
“In this country, it’s good to intimidate a blogger from time to time, to encourage the others.”
With apologies to Voltaire.
Dissent needs to be managed and controlled.