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Lawsuit Filed to Protest Seizure of Computers

Photo: Picture taken after the infoshop was raided by the police and had their computer hard drives confiscated.
Victoria Chow/Staff
Picture taken after the infoshop was raided by the police and had their computer hard drives confiscated.

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wo Berkeley businesses filed a lawsuit against the FBI, Alameda County, several UCPD officers and the UC Regents last week regarding the seizure of computers and storage devices from an infoshop last summer.

In the lawsuit, Long Haul Infoshop and East Bay Prisoner Support claim the search warrant was invalid due to vagueness about items to be searched.

On Aug. 27, after tracing e-mails threatening UC Berkeley professors back to the infoshop, police seized 14 computers and various CDs and memory cards.

Computers designated for private use were also seized from the infoshop, such as one owned by East Bay Prisoner Support, which publishes prisoner writing.

Computers have since been returned and no arrests have been made.

Since the infoshop distributes information to the public, the lawsuit claims it is protected by federal and state laws protecting its equipment from seizure.

The plaintiffs also claim officials copied information from the computers, giving them full discretion over access to private data.

However, UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya says the warrant was justified.

"Our detective served the search warrant, it was signed by a judge and authorized our officers to enter the premise of that location and seize materials and equipment that it may contain," he said.

Representatives of the parties involved could not be reached for comment.

The businesses will be represented by rights advocates-the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation, destruction of the seized information and assurance that further investigations not be based on confiscated materials.

-Keena Batti


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