The British police have raided the house of a journalist with an independent paper without sufficient warrant in a move the paper said threatens the “future of liberty” and free journalism.
Riot police raided the house of an editor with The Autonomist, which is a locally produced newsletter for the Bristol area, earlier this month kicking down the door of the property without warning and detaining residents for two hours.
Officers searched the house and confiscated all articles relating to the production of the paper.
The paper said on its website that the police did not produce a credible warrant for their raid offering a document that loosely connected the residents of the house to the recent unrest in Britain.
“The grudgingly-produced warrant for the raid attempts to link the occupants to recent disorder,” the paper said.
It also talked of a “frankly libelous sign” officers erected outside the building.
The paper said that the warrant authorized officers to seize simple items that may be found in every house as evidence of wrongdoing to charge the journalist.
“It authorizes the seizure of “rocks (may be having glass samples upon)”, and “white paint”, and refers repeatedly to “domestic extremism”. The list rounded out with such incriminating articles as “pedal cycles, clothing, and “literature”,” the paper said.
It added that the police also “illegally” took away several other unlisted items including passports.
The Autonomist is a radical and popular local paper produced by a group of mainly homeless people and distributed for free.
One of its journalist said the police move is a “clear” impingement on “journalistic independence.”
“The seizure of the phones, computers, and paperwork relating to the production of The Autonomist just as we start to compile the September edition is a clear, worrying and damaging, attack on journalistic independence,” said collective members Lucy Parsons.
“The demonization of those who report the news as “domestic extremists”, and the willingness to use violence to silence them, does not fill us with confidence in the police or the future of liberty in this country,” she added.
The local newsletter is “dedicated to reporting unheard voices in the community” and has recently covered “the rising tide of sabotage attacks around Bristol”.
It said they have bought “police enmity” for themselves due to a failure to “stick to police statements when reporting the riots in April”.