Potential Arsenal suitor and convicted criminal, Alisher Usmanov, is resorting to astounding tactics on the day that Jose was sacked, thanks to his good friends at the Schillings law firm. David Warner can take it from here:
Yesterday, I suggested in this story that Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, is badmouthing Alisher Usmanov, the billionaire Russian steel magnate attempting to take over Premier League club Arsenal, because he wants to sell you a book he wrote about his experience in that former Soviet republic. It has become clear today, however, that whatever Murray is attempting to sell, Usmanov and his lawyers do not want anyone to buy it.Pretty amazing stuff but who can be surprised when a country has such strong libel laws that can even protect a convicted criminal.
According to Tom Dunmore at PitchInvasion.net, Craig Murray's web site was taken off line today after sustained pressure on Murray's web hosting provider from Schillings, the London law firm representing Usmanov. What's more, Schillings has also managed to put the kibosh on political site Bloggerheads three days after Tim Ireland wrote this piece on Schillings' cease & desist letters.
Web sites for English politicians Boris Johnson and Bob Piper were also taken down in part because they fell under Ireland's purview. In addition, Pitch Invasion and Arseblog have both received legal pressure from Schillings to remove any links and references to Murray and his accusations of Usmanov's criminal past.
The timing of this latest attack is quite interesting, as it all went down the same day that Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho, all but guaranteeing that nobody in the mainstream media would be paying any attention to it. Unfortunately for Schillings, their success in taking down these web sites has resulted in this story being publicized all over the web.
Political blog Chicken Yoghurt has compiled a list of blogs that have publicized this story as a result of both Murray's site and Ireland's sites being taken down. Several dozen sites are now screaming censorship at Usmanov and Schillings for their actions, and it's hard to say they don't have a point.
It appears Schillings has fallen victim to something our pals at Techdirt like to call "The Streisand Effect." Back in 2003, Barbra Streisand sued a photographer in an attempt to remove an aerial photo of her California home from the Internet, despite the fact that the photo was part of a publicly funded coastline erosion study and wasn't even labeled as her home. As a result, photos of her house were published all over the web within days.
A similar situation happened last year to Diebold when internal memos discussing their easily hackable electronic voting machines were leaked to the web, and a group of students at Swarthmore College published the memos to the web. Diebold attempted to have the memos removed, claiming the students were committing copyright infringement. The company was successfully sued for issuing unlawful takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and forced to pay $125,000 in damages.
Interestingly enough, a blogger called Sepisticle published a takedown notice from Schillings and then removed it after Schillings claimed it was a "copyrighted letter."
Much most interesting, though, is that for all their claims that Murray is libeling their client, Schillings has not actually sued Murray for libel. They have told anyone who will listen that Murray's book, Murder at Samarkand, is defamatory against Usmanov, but it's been out for more than a year, and they have never taken any legal action against Murray. Instead, they seem more focused on getting any mention of Murray and his allegations against Usmanov removed from the web -- and as the Streisand Effect teaches us, that's pretty much impossible.
If Murray's goal was to make Usmanov look like a thug, then mission accomplished, and it may be why the remaining Arsenal board members are redoubling their efforts to prevent Usmanov from taking over the club. If Murray ever finds his way back to the Internet, this story could get even nastier. Let's just hope nobody finds any polonium-210 in their soup because of this.
Euro Power Rankings: (modified slightly)
1) AC Milan
2) Real Madrid
4) AS Roma
6) Bayern Munich
8) FC Barcelona
9) Manchester United
10) FC Porto
- Some surprising UEFA cup results with Premier League sides struggling, with the exception of Spurs.
- Of course after surprisingly drawing with Chelski in the Champions League, Rosenborg has Norwegians freaking out about potential hooligans when the Blues come to town.
- The Gunners are on fire, someone put out Cesc Fabregas.
- Brazilian footballer Kerlon might not want to try his patented seal dribble again: