A U.S. court has ordered Twitter to provide details of user accounts linked to several WikiLeaks supporters as part of a federal investigation.
A federal court has ordered Twitter to turn over details of accounts tied
to several WikiLeaks supporters as part of the government's investigation
into the whistle-blower site.
The U.S. Department of Justice obtained a subpoena for the microblogging
site Dec. 14 requesting records going back to Nov. 1, 2009, that are "relevant and
material to an ongoing criminal investigation." Among those
targeted are WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp
(whose name is misspelled in the subpoena) and Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army
intelligence analyst suspected of leaking documents to WikiLeaks.
Also named in the subpoena are computer programmer Jacob Appelbaum
(identified by his Twitter username, ioerror) and former WikiLeaks
volunteer and current Icelandic parliament member Birgitta J??nsd??ttir, who
wrote the following
in a tweet
: "just got this: Twitter has received legal process
requesting information regarding your Twitter account in (relation to
J??nsd??ttir also tweeted that she plans to oppose the subpoena.
According to a copy of the court
order published by Salon.com
(PDF), the government is looking for a
variety of information, including session times and mailing addresses.
"WikiLeaks strongly condemns this harassment of individuals by the U.S.
government," WikiLeaks said in a statement relayed
by WikiLeaks attorney Mark Stephens.
The recent WikiLeaks controversy began when the site started publishing
a trove of U.S.
diplomatic cables in late November. The release of the documents has touched
off months of debate and prompted WikiLeaks supporters and opponents alike
their differences with denial-of-service attacks
while businesses such as
PayPal cut ties with the whistle-blower site.
In December, Assange was arrested in the U.K.
on charges of sexual assault that had initially been dropped by authorities in Sweden.
He is currently out on bail.
In its statement, WikiLeaks reportedly said that some of the people
named in the subpoena were key figures in helping WikiLeaks make public U.S.
military video of a 2007 air strike that killed Iraqi civilians. WikiLeaks is
instructing its lawyers to oppose the subpoena, and is calling on Facebook
and Google to disclose whether they received similar subpoenas as well.
A federal judge unsealed the court order Jan. 5 after Twitter requested the
right to inform the people being targeted.
In addition to obtaining the subpoena, it was also revealed that the U.S.
government has taken steps to protect people judged by officials to be in
danger because of the document leak. On Jan. 7, U.S. State Department
spokesperson P.J. Crowley told the media the department has helped relocate "a
handful of people" identified in the diplomatic documents out of concern
for their safety.
WikiLeaks has denied putting any lives at risk.