Moldavia: sequestration of personal computers of 12 young people for posting critical comments online

On June 4th, 2008, the Râşcani District Court from the Moldavian capital of Kishinev has ordered the sequestration of personal computers of about 12 young people who expressed critical opinions against the ruling communist party of the Republic of Moldavia on Internet forums and news portals such as forum.md, torrentsmd.com, desteptarea.info and unimedia.md.

According to Curaj.Net. these young people can be charged for making illegal public “calls for the overthrow of the constitutional order” and threatening the “ statality and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldavia.”

“We believe that [a Moldavian] IT company gave the IP addresses of its users,” the executive Director of New Media Group, Dumitru Ciorici, told us when asked about how did the police find these young people. “Legally, they have no write to do this because it's freedom of expression and these actions are to intimidate the citizens. Now, the young people are very scared and don't want to talk.”

Global Voices Advocacy received a copy of a press release titled “The communist governance from Kishinev is censoring the INTERNET” issued on June 11, 2008 by the Moldavian New Media Group and stating that:

on April 15, 2008 New Media Group received a demarche of the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Moldova, in the investigative case nr. 160, started on 15.01.2008, where UNIMEDIA is forced offering IP address of commentators from the news portal forum www.unimedia.md to the Security and Information Service of Moldova.

On April 21 2008, New Media Group responded officially to the Security and Information Service and General Prosecutor with a letter, which states that NMG does not have the IP addresses of commentators on this site www.unimedia.md for the period January 20 – 14 April 2008 because, in accordance with a previous decision of the Governing Board of NMG from January 22, 2008, the IP addresses of commentators are not stored more than 10 days. After this period they are automatically deleted from the database.

In this sense, New Media Group believes that the appreciation of the Court that the young people have place commentaries on UNIMEDIA is erroneous and lacks legal, since there is no evidence, which would submit the statement that from those IP addresses of these young people were published comments on UNIMEDIA. At the same time, we find that the conclusion of the Court affects the company's image and intimidates UNIMEDIA’s visitors.

8 comments

  • Alex

    Correction: they did not express critical opinion. A critical opinion is something else, it’s where you express your disagreement with something. What one of them wrote was “kill the communists!”, “let’s make a revolution!”. I read a lot of comments containing messages like those two. Maybe now they don’t seem threattening, but in the whole context, where a lot of people write the same things, looks like something that should be examined by the prosecutors. These actions are illegal according to the Criminal Law adopted by the non-communist parliment, that are written to protect the state.

  • Dan

    as long as it doesn’t have any specificity, it doesn’t fall under any of the accusation they were brought.
    If they’d wrote something like: “let’s kill the communists tomorrow in some city region (even more with time indication)” –> that is a threat.

    Now, on the other hand, what has been done against national bolsheviks and those who want to beat up/exterminate pro-Romanians? Those who call for unity with mother russia?

    IMHO, this is a very well directed action as the authorities fear they’ll lose their seats..

  • Alexandru

    those were critical opinions.
    in a democratic state the comments to the news on the news portals are very hard even swering politicians, political parties or their attitudes.
    that does not mean someone will aply in the reality that swering… it’s that simple.

    If you put behind bars the youngsters just becouse this then we have a problem… and yes, the communists should go!

  • Alex

    Dear Dan, it’s not specified anywhere in the Criminal Law, that a threat is considered an expression that contains the time and place. You should know that almost anywhere in the world, if you tell someone you know something like “I will kill you” in a very serious manner, that can be well considered a threat, and will be investigated by the police, and the prosecutors. By these messages these young citizens have violated the rights and freedom of a whole political party and the government itself. Violation must be prosecuted and judged. Now what happenes here: EVERYBODY in the media is saying: The poor youngsters, all they did was comment (not mentioning absolutely anything about the nature of the comments) and they got the prosecutors on their backs.

    So big deal! The prosecutors MUST DO THEIR JOB, they DO HAVE EVIDENCE, according to the Criminal Law. The justice mechanism, meaning the Judges, shall decide who is right and who is wrong. What people do now with the protests, with the massmedia, what they do is influence the process, which is again, ILLEGAL.

  • Alex

    ugh, it’s hard to write long comments on this website :).

    Dan, the authority must not fear anything. If they lose their seats before the ellections – it won’t be democracy at all! They have been legally ellected by the majority. We, Dan, on the other hand, represent the minority. How can you speak of democracy if you can’t accept the majority’s choice, and speak of crimes against the state as of pieces of nothings. IMO it’s not something that should be punished by death, life in prisson or other punishments. Most likely they’ll get out clean after a looong persecution and some trials. That will be done to intimidate them, YES, to intimidate crime, so that people really watch their thumbs when typing “offensless opinions” on forums. Maybe then I’ll stop seing in each political topic dozens of messages like “kill the commies”, “down with the crow”, which did make sense when we were fighting to protect our rights to study the Romanian language, but not years after that, when no major event happened that could determine us to try to overthrow the government (because those are the meanings of those words).

  • Ion

    Actually the sad thing about this abuse is that none of the people whose computers were seized dared to participate at a protest in order to challenge the authorities. This means the goal was achieved – people fear to comment and to discuss the incident.

  • VICTOR

    IN STEAD OF GIVING ADVICES OF STEPS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO HELP THESE YUNG PEOPLE, YOU DEBATE TE CRIMINAL CODE. IS THERE A WAY THAT THIS CAN BE BROUGHT IN FRONT OF CEDO AND IF THERE IS SOMEONE THAT WOULD LIKE TO REPRESENT THESE PEOPLE AT CEDO B/C I CAN TELL YOU THERE ARE A LOT OF US THAT WOULD SUPPORT MORALLY AND NOT ONLY THIS CAUSE.

  • VICTOR

    WHERE AS FOR THE ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD GET MORE INVOLVED INTO THIS MATTER, MAKING SURE THE POPULATION OF MOLDOVA (TARA STRAMOSILOR NOSTRI, MICA BUCATICA DIN ROMANIA MARE) IS AWARE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN MOLDOVA

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