Security plans intended to protect Western leaders attending a trade summit in Quebec City were stolen from a car there over the weekend and posted, hours later, on a Seattle-based Web site, authorities said yesterday.
On Saturday night, FBI agents raided the offices of the Independent Media Center in downtown Seattle, seizing computer-log records, according to federal sources.
No arrests have been made.
Center spokeswoman Sherry Herndon said she and other staff have been told "not to talk about" the incident under threat of being held in contempt of court.
She referred inquiries to attorney Bob Goodman of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City, who also declined comment.
He said the court order that was served on the IMC "contains a fairly broad gag order; therefore, we cannot talk."
The three-day summit, which experienced mass protests similar to those that rocked Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization conference, ended Sunday without serious security incidents. Virtually every head of state in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of Cuba's Fidel Castro was in attendance.
No mention of the FBI raid could be found yesterday on the IMC Web site. But the organization's home page carried a boldface note stating, "Everything is fine at the Seattle IMC. We will keep you posted on any further developments."
One federal criminal justice source said the speed with which the sensitive stolen document appeared on the Internet speaks to the sophistication of the movement that is opposed to unrestricted global trade.
"The fact that you have something of this magnitude out there on the Web, it really shows these groups are strong, resourceful and resilient," the source said.
The IMC calls itself "a collective of independent media organizations and hundreds of journalists offering grass-roots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues."
The organization has committed "no clear-cut violation of U.S. law" by posting the document on the Web, and the action may be protected as free speech, according to federal criminal justice sources.
President Bush, who attended the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, was not placed at risk, according to one source.
The breach of security, however, is another embarrassment for the Canadian government, which recently lost a highly sensitive, anti-terrorism document. It was stolen from a government official's car while he was attending a hockey game.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police referred a call for comment on the IMC incident to Quebec Provincial Police, which was in charge of security at the summit. No one was available to comment on the matter yesterday at police headquarters in Montreal.
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