US asks for personal WikiLeaks data from Twitter

The US government has requested personal information from the Twitter accounts of four WikiLeaks supporters as part of a widening criminal probe, the whistle-blower website said.

US asks for personal WikiLeaks data from Twitter

The US government has requested personal information from the Twitter accounts of four WikiLeaks supporters as part of a widening criminal probe, the whistle-blower website said Saturday.

The US Department of Justice has been pursuing a criminal investigation into the website's leak of hundreds of thousands of secret US frontline military reports and diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks said in a statement it suspected similar requests had been sent to Google and Facebook, and that they may have quietly complied with the requests without notifying members.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter. A spokesman for Facebook, Andrew Noyes, also said "we have no comment at this time."

According to documents first published by Salon.com, a US attorney in Virginia last month requested private messages, contact information and credit card numbers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Bradley Manning -- the US soldier suspected of leaking the documents -- and two other WikiLeaks backers.

The order was confidential, but the judge unsealed it on Wednesday, apparently to allow Twitter, a popular micro-blogging website, to notify the users and give them a chance to launch a legal appeal.

"WikiLeaks strongly condemns this harassment of individuals by the U.S. government," WikiLeaks said in a statement issued to Reuters by its London lawyer, Mark Stephens.

Iceland's Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson told Icelandic media on Saturday his government planned to lodge a protest on Monday with the U.S. ambassador in Reykjavik.

Speaking on state radio, Skarphedinsson said the U.S. authorities' behaviour was unacceptable and his government would do everything in its power to protect Jonsdottir.

WikiLeaks said three of the four individuals targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice had never worked for WikiLeaks and were private citizens who supported its public disclosure work voluntarily as activists or politicians.

Two of them were instrumental in helping WikiLeaks make public the Pentagon video that showed a U.S. helicopter crew firing on Iraqi civilians, the statement said. WikiLeaks is instructing its U.S. lawyers to oppose the subpoena, he added.

Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland's foreign relations committee wrote on Twitter that she was seeking legal advice and had spoken to Iceland's minister of justice, who was looking into the case.

The subpoena gave Twitter Inc three days to provide the records and ordered the San Francisco-based company not to inform the users under investigation.

A federal judge unsealed the order on Jan. 5 after Twitter requested the right to inform the people involved.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the subpoena but added: "To help users protect their rights, it is our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so."

In its statement, WikiLeaks said the legal step taken by Twitter had made public the existence of a criminal investigation by the U.S. government into the website's work.

WikiLeaks called on Facebook and Google to unseal any similar subpoenas requesting information about its operations.

Stephens said the subpoena showed that the U.S. authorities were having difficulty putting together a case "criminalizing the actions of a journalistic source" as they try to identify the source of the leaked documents.

"What they are trying to do is hoover data up to see if anything can identify the source," the lawyer told Reuters.

Link to subpoena: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/01/07/twitter/subpoena.pdf


Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Ocak 2011, 13:49
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