Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 7 News List

US goes after WikiLeaks data

‘OUTRAGEOUS’ ACTION:The information sought by the US government includes all connection records and session times, and IP addresses used to access Twitter

Reuters, WASHINGTON

A WikiLeaks supporter wearing the “Anonymous” Internet activist mask holds a banner during a demonstration at the US consulate in Seville, Spain, on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

A US court has ordered Twitter to hand over details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and several supporters as part of a criminal investigation into the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

The Dec. 14 subpoena obtained by the US Department of Justice and published by online magazine Salon.com on Friday said the records sought from the microblogging Web site were “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

It ordered Twitter to provide account information on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the US Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking Pentagon documents made public last year by WikiLeaks.

The information sought by the government includes all connection records and session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, e-mail and residential addresses, plus billing records and details of bank accounts and credit cards.

The subpoena included the accounts of WikiLeaks supporters Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and member of Iceland’s parliament.

“WikiLeaks strongly condemns this harassment of individuals by the US government,” WikiLeaks said in a statement issued by its London lawyer, Mark Stephens.

Icelandic Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson told reporters on Saturday his government planned to lodge a protest today with the US ambassador in Reykjavik.

Speaking on state radio, Skarphedinsson said the US authorities’ behavior was unacceptable and his government would do everything in its power to protect Jonsdottir.

The US government is examining whether criminal charges can be brought against Assange for helping to make public hundreds of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables that have embarrassed Washington and several of its allies.

WikiLeaks said three of the four individuals targeted by the US 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 US helicopter crew firing on Iraqi civilians, the statement said.

WikiLeaks is instructing its US lawyers to oppose the subpoena, it added.

Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s foreign relations committee, speaking to Sky News on the telephone from Reykjavik, she said the US’ actions were outrageous.

“I have not conducted any criminal activity. I find it to be troublesome because the vice president of the United States has labeled WikiLeaks as a cyber-terrorist organization,” she said.

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 Wednesday 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.”

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

Stephens said the subpoena showed that the US authorities were having difficulty putting together a case “criminalizing the actions of a journalistic source.”

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