Investigatory and Surveillance Measures
The accusation of „Membership in a Criminal Organisation“ according to §278a of the Austrian Penal Code grants the authorities extensive powers to employ a variety of surveillance methods against suspects. The accused activists were subject to near complete surveillance in the months before their arrest. The following should document the surveillance and other investigatory methods that were used in the current case.
„Increased surveillance of endangered entities.“ Kleider Bauer stores of other stores that belong to companies that sell fur sich as Escada were placed under stronger surveillance by police and were heavily patrolled. This affected stores of the aforementioned companies in Vienna.
A large amount of effort was put into crime scene investigations: not only were surveillance cameras in the surrounding streets analysed and evaluated, but also flyers were put up nearby in the hope of finding
potential witnesses to the crimes. The police analysed every piece of garbage and every substance in connection with the crime using molecular genetics. In the area around the crime scene, public garbage containers were emptied in the hope of finding clues as to who were the culprits. Beyond that telecommunication cells in the area were analysed to see whether any number belonging to „known“ cell phone numbers was in the area at the assumed time of the crime or if any unknown numbers in the area had contact with known connections. (Cells are the area that is covered by a cell phone tower. The radius reaches in a city, where the cell phone net is thicker, from 300 Meters to many kilometers in the countryside.)
Officials even analysed fliers, took DNA- and Fingerprint samples, partially through force. In two known cases DNA samples were secretly taken from activists from their drinking glass or their bicycle. One person was approached in front of his/her house by a group of civil officials asking for a „voluntary DNA sample“
Crimes from over 10 years ago with a supposed connection to animal rights were dug out and a flashlight that was found at the time was subjected to a new DNA-test. Later some activists were subjected to voice analyses because there was a TV interview with supposed animal liberators. The sample was taken from a recorded telephone call.
In one case an extremely intensive linguistical text analysis was done to find out who was the originator of written claims of responisibility. These incredibly dubious methods, executed by a linguist from the University of Linz, consisted of the analysis of the terms used, the length of sentences and the ways of expression. In this case published texts alongside written statements were evaluated and compared with suspected publications.
The investigators asked to gain bank account information for at least two bank accounts in order to track the movements in the accounts. Beyond that the financial trackers were set out on individuals as well as groups (NGOs) in order to find out about any possibile irregularities.
Telephone Surveillance (Wiretapping). The surveillance of persons began with telephone surveillance. At the beginning individual activists were tapped. Increasingly more telephone numbers were then listed and forwarded to the police, private numbers as well as work mobiles. The surveillance of content did not simply include analysis of material relevant to the topic but also material relevant to group structure, that is who knows whom and what topics are talked about or not talked about with whom. Text messages were of course read as well.
The call data was requested from mobile providers, investigating who has (had) when, with whom, for how long telephone contact (going back up to 6 months). Mobile providers do not only save the call data for the individual telephone numbers (SIM), but also the unique device number (IMEI), which appears along with the telephone number. Thus not yet known numbers, such as from anonymous pre-paid cards, that used the same device can be found out .
An analysis of the cells should resolve where the individuals went with their cell phones and whether they were in the vicinity of crime scenes, including in the weeks before or after the crimes. According to the case files, it was not possible to surveil the cell phones when the devices in question were shut off. Lastly the investigators also looked for cross hits, unknown numbers that turned up multiple times at various crime scenes in the supposed time range where crimes were committed. Thus clues involving cell phones that were present at multiple crimes scenes should be attained.
Hidden cameras were installed in front of the houses of several of the accused in order to better trace their movements, see who entered then house with whom when, etc. In each case only the entry to the house was filmed, a rather small area. The quality of the picture varied strongly, when the weather was bad the transmission briefly cut off altogether.
In two cases homing devices were installed an cars in order to track the movements of the cars without any problems. Thus it was possible to find the „targeted car“ again, should it be lost in the course of personal observation.
Spying. Numerous persons were at least partially spied on for months, that means followed day in, day out. It did not matter if the target was travelling with public transport, by car, by bike or by a combination. The spying was carried out by officials of the federal police/Ministry of the Interior. The intenstity of the observation of individual „targets“ varied strongly and ranged from daily following to occasional or situational observation (as far as it can be reconstructed from the case files). Those observed were usually „picked up“ from home or also from friends’ houses, depending on the information attained by telephone surveillance. Those targeted were observed going out to eat, when they went to bars, at protests and even by hitchhiking. In one case a person was even observed in a foreign country with the help of a request on the local authorities and they found out with whom the person stayed.
Lastly a „major bugging action“ was carried out on at least one „target apartment.“ Officers of the special unit for observation (SEO) inspected the apartment from the outside and the surrounding houses and courtyards and gave an estimate as to the possibilities for surveillance within the apartment. Then they secretly broke into the apartment and installed microphones. At one end of the house where was another stronger sender that carried the data over a larger range encrypted. After this the apartment was surveilled „live“ 24 hours a day from a total of 12 people. Contact was constantly kept with those responsible in the special commission should any reason to move in arise. Although Video- and Audio-surveillance of the apartment were allowed, only the latter was applied. Beyond that the investigators sought permission to place a Trojan (Keylogger, Screenshot-software) on the computer of one of the suspects.
According to documents which were made public by the Green Party politicial Peter Pilz, undercover agents were embedded within the scene. §§278ff are a danger to every progressive political movement, not only because of the completely dispraportionate investigatory powers. It enables the investigating authorities complete exposure of political movements and social connections, regardless of whether suspicions exist.
Abolish §§ 278ff!