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German authorities seized the servers that hosted BlueLeaks police files at the request of the US government

Aaron Holmes   

German authorities seized the servers that hosted BlueLeaks police files at the request of the US government
  • German authorities have seized a server that hosted thousands of sensitive police documents published as part of the BlueLeaks data dump.
  • The German prosecutors behind the seizure were acting at the request of the US government, they told the Associated Press. The FBI and other US officials have not commented on the seizure.
  • The takedown comes after DDoSecrets, the publisher that hosted the BlueLeaks files after they were obtained by an anonymous hacker, was permanently banned from Twitter.
  • Hacking the government to steal information is illegal, but DDoSecrets says it was merely acting as a publisher — and the Supreme Court has upheld the right of journalists to publish stolen material.

The site that hosted hundreds of thousands of leaked police files — dubbed BlueLeaks — has been taken offline after its servers were confiscated by German authorities acting at the request of the US government.

The police files were published by DDoSecrets, a transparency-focused group that said it obtained the files from an anonymous hacker last month. DDoSecrets founder Emma Best said German prosecutors in the town of Zwickau seized their servers on Tuesday, but added that the publisher has not been given an explanation.

"Unsurprisingly, German authorities won't say why the server was seized or what #DDoSecrets is accused of," Best tweeted on Tuesday.

German prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday that they seized the servers at the behest of the US government.

It's not clear what legal grounds the US has to take the server offline. Hacking the government is a crime, but the Supreme Court has upheld the right of journalists to publish leaked documents as long as they weren't involved in their theft. DDoSecrets maintains that it's a publisher without any ties to the hacker who first obtained the BlueLeaks files.

A spokesperson for the Zwickau prosecutor's office told the German outlet Zeit Online that they were aware DDoSecrets is a journalistic project, but declined to provide any further information.

US authorities have yet to make a statement about BlueLeaks or the takedown. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment.

After BlueLeaks' publication, DDoSecrets' official Twitter account was permanently banned from the site. Twitter said DDoSecrets broke Twitter's rules against sharing hacked material, but similar enforcement has not been taken against other news outlets who published information gleaned from BlueLeaks.

DDoSecrets members remain undeterred by the seizure of their servers — Best said that the BlueLeaks files will remain available via torrent networks, which decentralize file hosting and make takedowns more difficult.

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