U.S. orders Twitter to hand over information on WikiLeaks followers
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has subpoenaed microblogging site Twitter for information about persons and accounts linked to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Salon reported that the order seeks information about tweets sent by people currently or formerly associated with WikiLeaks, including Icelandic Parliament member Birgitta Jónsdóttir, researcher Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp, and founder Julian Assange, who has lost support among U.S. journalists. The DOJ also wants information about WikiLeaks' Twitter account and its followers, and that of Army private Bradley Manning, who is suspected of releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The complete subpoena is available here.
"All of this extraordinary probing and "criminal" investigating is stemming from WikiLeaks' doing nothing more than publishing classified information showing what the U.S. Government is doing: something investigative journalists, by definition, do all the time," wrote Glenn Greenwald in the Salon article.
Twitter said it fought to unseal the subpoena because "to help users protect their rights, it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information," reported TechCrunch.
In a statement to Reuters, WikiLeaks said it "strongly condemns this harassment of individuals by the U.S. government."
Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said the subpoena would give prosecutors information on more than 634,000 people who follow WikiLeaks' Twitter account, and he said similar information has been sought from Google, Facebook, and EBay's Skype unit, reported Bloomberg. For more freedom of expression issues related to Twitter and Facebook, see the Knight Center's Twitter feed about social media.
The subpoena served on Twitter is the latest shot fired in the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers. Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was charged last week with disclosing national security information.
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