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Freedom for Neo!

Today is rather special blog entry because instead of 1 picture you get a whole photo reporting. But the event is special as well.

Yesterday there were 2 demonstrations in Riga with one reason - to protest against the arrest of Neo. Yes, you red it right - Neo, and no, it's not some kind of adaption of the Matrix movie. It's for real. Neo for a several months is a most famous Latvian hacker (well, not really a hacker, but anyway) and at the same time the people's hero, in other word called as the "modern Robin Hood". His real name is Ilmārs Poikāns and he is a 31 year old researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Latvia's Institute of Mathematics and Information. What did he? He discovered a "hole" in the information system of State Revenue Service and in several months (the "hole" was open all that time) he downloaded more than 7,2 million confidential tax documents - and then leaked the data of wages in state-owned firms and banks to the media. The data exposed a shocking high wages & compensations which were payed to clerks even in crysis time. For example, in Riga public transport enterprise some highest officials recieved some 40 000 Euros in a month... while at the same time the ticket prices have been raised and the dotations from the government asked. You can read more about Neo in BBC news portal:

Now, this week Neo was arrested. And in order to do that, the policemans even searched the Latvian Television reporter's Ilze Nagla home (she was the journalist to whom Neo provided the first data). It has raised serious concerns about press freedom in Latvia - and that was the second reason for these protests.

The people were not too many, actually. Some hundred in the first protest at the Cabinet of Ministers, and about the same number at the second protest at the prosecutor's general office. But we reached our main target - Neo was released from arrest yesterday. Of course, theoretically he still has to face charges, but I hope it will end with nothing because all what he has done - he has copied the data from the internet without breaking into system, just using the existing "hole". And in normal democratic country data about state officials wages should be public anyway.

I made it to the second protest at Prosecutor's office. Here you see the overview of protesting people:

These people stayed with placard calling to passing-by drivers to signalize in support of the demonstration.

Many of them also did it.

Others wrote slogans on the asphalt with chalks. This one: "Pīp for Neo!"

"Freedom for Neo!"

Media photographers, TV camera mans and reporters there were almost as many as protesters :)

Policemans observing the event from aside

Freedom for Neo! Reviewed by Ikars Kublins on Friday, May 14, 2010 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Best wishes to NEO - as you write: in a democratic county it is not an illegal act to "find" data..well maybe to give the found data to third man, but...
    Thanks for all the beautyful photos!


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