Dozens of computer devices confiscated in search of libertarian activists’ Keene home

  • This screenshot from a YouTube video shows FBI and state police officers positioned outside the Keene duplex at 73 Leverett St., which was the subject of a court-ordered search on Sunday morning.

Monitor staff
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
The FBI confiscated about 50 pieces of computer equipment Sunday from a household of Keene libertarians whose network is suspected to have been used to access a website hosting child pornography.

Ian Freeman, who is one of the residents of 73 Leverett St., said in a phone interview Monday that he was awoken about 6:40 a.m. after agents of the FBI, state police and Keene police pounded on the front door of the duplex. He said they presented him a warrant stating that someone “purportedly went to a child porn website the FBI was running” using the connection there.

Freeman operates a network of radio shows from the home and shares it with two roommates, he said. No one was arrested.

Donald Feith, who is the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s New Hampshire office, confirmed by phone Monday that the FBI executed a court-ordered search warrant, but he declined to elaborate. He said “there’s no documents that are publicly available” pertaining to the case.

Freeman said the FBI broke into one of the largest child pornography websites last year and used it for two weeks to install a hack on its visitors that would reveal information about their computers, even if they were disguised behind encryption.

“They claim someone went to this website” during that time, he said.

The FBI will attempt to determine whether the digital fingerprints of the confiscated devices – computers, cell phones, thumb drives and other storage media – match the data they’ve collected, he said.

Freeman and his roommates said they’re innocent.

He’s the co-host of a nationally syndicated libertarian radio program, Free Talk Live, which is recorded in a studio at the Leverett Street house. Several people have the password to the network, he said.

He mustered the equipment to broadcast a program Sunday night in which he and his co-hosts discussed the search. One of the other hosts, Mark Edgington, suggested that the timing was coincidental given that the subject of the show a week earlier was the FBI’s controversial operation last year of the child pornography site, a decision that weighed the value of catching criminals against the detriment of allowing users to download illicit material.

“We called them child pornographers. They are child pornographers,” Edgington said of the FBI.

Freeman said he believes the FBI is targeting liberty activists in New Hampshire. He pointed to another case in which he said a different Keene man, Rich Paul, claims an FBI agent attempted to get him to wear a wire into a meeting of the Keene Activist Center.

“It’s clear they’re willing to do whatever they can to disrupt the liberty movement here,” Freeman said.

The search comes just days after Freeman was expelled from the Free State Project, a political movement of libertarians that brought him to New Hampshire. His blog, Free Keene, and radio network have previously been featured at Free State Project events.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325 or or on Twitter @NickBReid.)

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