For those of you not following the goings-on of the British politico-blogging scene (and I’m aware my audience isn’t as interested as I am), Arsenal part-owner Alisher Usmanov has hired lawyers Schillings to threaten Craig Murray’s website into nonexistence.
It’s worth reading the Indymedia article on Usmanov, cited right there at the top, and his Wikipedia entry, to get more of an idea of the man. Murray, for his part, is the chap that revealed human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan, and he had a lot of rather impolite things to say about Usmanov. Usmanov has been unable to prevent Craig Murray’s book, Murder in Samarkand, from being published, and has refused so far to instigate any kind of libel process against him: make of that what you will.
Rather than exploring any legal avenues, Schillings have instead made sinister advances towards Fasthosts, the company hosting craigmurray.org.uk . The result of this is that a slew of websites, including Boris Johnson’s blog, have been pulled because they’re all resold by the same chap. I think. It’s all terribly confusing, but there’s a timeline of events, if you dare.
The most vocal victim has been blogscene stalwart Tim “Bloggerheads” Ireland. O, hubris! The wrong man to anger, Ireland knows exactly how to keep on blogging in the face of such threats (and has set up a new blog to track the ongoing situation). Schillings might as well have taken out a billboard on Oxford Street advertising Usmanov’s life history, although if they’d tried that then I think the ASA would demand its removal rather quickly. It’s rather ironic that Schillings position themselves as experts in internet takedowns, given how quickly this whole affair has got entirely out of their control. There are now hundreds of blogs linking to this story, where once there were just a handful.
Fancy joining in? Because, you see, forcing your will on another’s by the simple expedient of official-looking letters and a lot of financial backing, without due process of law examining and regulating the demands and behaviour of all parties involved, is tantamount to intimidation of free speech. No man is an island; today, in fact, we are all Ireland.