WikiLeaks: US demanding Twitter account info
LONDON (AP) - January 8, 2011 -- There's a new development in the showdown between Wikileaks and the American government.
WikiLeaks' Twitter account details have been subpoenaed by U.S. officials, the secret-spilling site announced Saturday, adding that it suspected other American Internet companies were also being asked to hand over information about its activities.
In an e-mail statement, WikiLeaks said that U.S. investigators had gone to the San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. to demand the private messages, contact information and other personal details of founder Julian Assange and others linked to WikiLeaks - including the U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of handing classified information to the site and a high-profile Icelandic parliamentarian.
WikiLeaks blasted the court order, saying it amounted to harassment.
"If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out," Assange said in statement.
A copy of the court order, dated Dec. 14 and posted to Salon.com, said that the information sought was "relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation" and ordered Twitter not to disclose its existence to Assange or any of the others targeted.
The order was unsealed "thanks to legal action by Twitter," WikiLeaks said in its statement. Twitter has declined comment on the claim, saying only that its policy is to notify its users, where possible, of government requests for information.
Others named in the order include Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private suspected of being the source of some of WikiLeaks' material, as well as Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic lawmaker and one-time WikiLeaks collaborator known for her role in pioneering Iceland's media initiative - which aims to make the North Atlantic nation a haven for free speech.
The U.S. is also seeking details about Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp and U.S. programmer Jacob Appelbaum, both of whom have previously worked with WikiLeaks.
Assange has promised to fight the order, as has Jonsdottir, who said in a Twitter message that she had "no intention to hand my information over willingly." Appelbaum, whose Twitter feed suggested he was traveling in Iceland, said he was apprehensive about returning to the U.S.
"Time to try to enjoy the last of my vacation, I suppose," he tweeted.
U.S. officials have been examining possible charges against WikiLeaks and its staff following a series of spectacular leaks which have embarrassed officials and tarnished Washington's image. The U.S. State Department has said that the website's latest leak - the disclosure of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables - has harmed U.S. diplomacy and could put human rights activists and others at risk.
WikiLeaks denies that charge, saying that Washington is acting out of embarrassment over the revelations contained in the cables.
wikileaks, london, national/world
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