This is a chronology of events surrounding the arrest of Leonids Jakabsons, a journalist and editor of the investigative and whistle-blowing website kompromat.lv.
Jakabsons has been released after being held the maximum 48 hours before a suspect must be brought before a judge and a case presented for further detention (a formal criminal investigation must be started or charges brought). It is pretty clear that this detention is a deliberate application of the chilling effect, as was done when Ilze Nagla, a Latvian television journalist, had her home searched and laptop seized after reporting on the activities of "Neo", a cyberactivist who leaked anonymized salary data from government and municipal institutions that he obtained by exploiting a "hole" in the State Revenue Service database. Later, when arrested, "Neo" was discovered to be Ilmārs Poikāns, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Latvia faculty of mathematics and computer science.
November 16, 2011. kompromat.lv publishes Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs correspondence with Alexander Hapilov of the Russian Embassy, a person suspected of spying
November 18, 2011 Ceaseless cyberattacks start against kompromat.lv and continue to the present..
November 21, 2011 kompromat.lv complains to the Cybercrime unit of the Economic Police, the responsible detective Aleksandrs Bebris shows no interest in the complaint/
November 22, 2011 After news appears on news portals about the cyberattacks on kompromat.lv, the Latvian IT security incident response unit CERT.LV contacts kompromat.lv and offers its assistance. CERT.LV examines log files, identifies the attacker and is prepared to participate in the case as a witness.
December 3, 2011, Detective Aleksandr Bebris announced that the Cybercrime unit has more important cases to investigate and no further investigation would be undertaken, even though the evidence submitted was more than sufficient to arrest those responsible.
December 14, 2011, Detective Aleksandrs Bebris asks kompromat.lv systems administrator Edmunds Zalitis to give a witness statement with regard to the cyber attack on kompromat.lv. Detective Bebris was particularly interested in the technical specifications of kompromat.lv’ s servers and whether there were backup copies, The detective also wanted access password, which, for security reasons, were not disclosed.
December 15, 2011 at 12:30 Cybercrimes unit detective Aleksandrs Bebris and three masked policemena around at the Riga World Trade Center and, using a sledge hammer, break into the office of an internet club. After an hour and a half, the police leave, taking along the kompromat.lv server , a server labeled “Backup” and two optical labeled Norton Systemworks 2005 (as could be determined from a bad quality carbon copy). The search and seizure had been requested by detective Nauris Liepins of the National Police, the search warrant was approved by Judge Rinalds Silakalns. Aleksandrs Bebris and Peteris Reinfelds participated in the search.
At the same time, kompromat.lv journalist Leonid Jakabsons is arrested at his home and all data media found in his residence during a search are seized.
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THE LESSONS LEARNED: Journalists in Latvia are operating in a latent crypto-authoritarian system where their freedom to work and the security of their working materials (digital or otherwise) can be violated at any time. To build better defenses, it is best to use cloud services and store or back-up notes and other confidential material in countries such as Iceland, Sweden, perhaps the US. Certainly any website like kompromat.lv should be hosted outside Latvia. Critical data should be encrypted at the cost of losing any media or computer it is on, while the authorities struggle to try to break in.