UC-San Diego cites Patriot Act over 'terrorist' link on Web site

CALIFORNIA ' Administrators at the University of California at San Diego have backed off their claims that a student organization's Web site was in violation of the U.S.A. Patriot Act for linking to an alleged terrorist organization on the school's server.

Administrators had ordered the Che Caf' Collective, the student cooperative that operates burn.ucsd.edu, to remove all hyperlinks to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, FARC, in September. The FARC is considered a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Gary Ratcliff, director of University Centers at the school, claimed that 'providing material support or resources to a designated [terrorist organization] is a violation of federal law.' He said the group was supplying communications equipment to The FARC through its Web site, which he argued violated the Patriot Act.

After a bevy of national media attention and letters from First Amendment advocacy groups, administrators revised their claim ordering the Che Caf' to stop hosting a Web page for another alleged terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers Party. Those orders were later dropped.

In a letter from the Che Caf' to administrators, the group stated that they never provided material support to a terrorist organization. 'If access to information and academic freedom in a public research university constitute material support to terrorists, it should come as no surprise that civil liberties and free speech have been among the casualties of the war on terrorism,' they said in the letter.

reports, Winter 2002-03