Feds subpoena Twitter for info on WikiLeaks backer
US authorities have subpoenaed Twitter for information about an Icelandic parliamentarian who until recently was a vocal supporter of WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange.
Iceland Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir disclosed the legal demand in a series of tweets on the micro blogging site on Friday. The former anarchist was a vocal supporter of the whistle-blower website until recently, when her enthusiasm for Assange cooled following allegations he sexually molested two women during a visit in August to Sweden.
“Just got this: Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account in (relation to wikileaks),” she wrote in one dispatch. “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize i am a member of parliament in iceland?” she quickly added.
She went on to say she is consulting with a lawyer and intends to fight the demand, which came from officials at the Justice Department.
“They are asking for a lot more then [sic] just my tweets,” she said. “I only got 10 days to stop this via legal process or [Twitter] will hand it over.
A Twitter spokeswoman declined to confirm the account, or say whether the service intends to comply.
“To help users protect their rights, it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so,” she said.
The demand makes Twitter the latest company to get embroiled in the US government’s heated campaign against WikiLeaks. Over the past month, a variety of companies – including PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, and Bank of America – have denied services to WikiLeaks following claims by the State Department that the site was engaged in illegal activity.
Charges have yet to be brought.
Jónsdóttir was the chief sponsor of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which was passed in that country’s parliament in June. The measure reformed media laws to make Iceland an international safe haven for journalists.
According to The Telegraph, Jónsdóttir also managed to get Assange into a US Embassy cocktail party at the ambassador’s residence in Reykjavik. During the event, Assange sipped with Sam Watson, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, whose embarrassing dispatches concerning the US and UK role following the collapse of Iceland’s bank would later be published on the site.
“He certainly had fun at the party,” Jónsdóttir was quoted as saying. “I said it would be a bit of a prank to take him and see if they knew who he was. I don’t think they had any idea.”
According to Wired.com, the subpoena was served on December 14 in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, the same venue of a federal grand jury deciding whether to bring charges against Assange for leaking classified State Department cables.
“I think I am being given a message, almost like someone breathing in a phone,” Jónsdóttir wrote. “If Twitter hands over my information – then no ones information is save [sic] with Twitter.” ®