Monday, May 20, 2024

DoJ Leans on Twitter for WikiLeaks Information

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The U.S. Justice Department has sent a court order to microblogging service Twitter seeking information about users involved in its criminal investigation of Wikileaks, a probe initiated in response to last year’s release of hundreds of thousands of secret government and military documents.

The DoJ secured its court order on Dec. 14, but it was only unsealed last week after Twitter won a judge’s approval to begin alerting users about the request for their information.

In the order, the Justice Department seeks information about several figures in the Wikileaks imbroglio dating back to Nov. 1, 2009, including Julian Assange, the founder of the organization, and Bradley Manning, the Army private first class accused of leaking the documents.

Also named in the order are three individuals with current or past involvement with Wikileaks: Rop Gonggrijp, Jacob Applebaum and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former Wikileaks associate who now serves in Iceland’s parliament.

It was Jonsdottir who alerted the world of Twitter’s work with the Justice Department, posting a series of tweets on Friday, including this message: “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?”

Salon obtained a copy of the court order, which directs Twitter to give the Justice Department all contact information associated with the accounts of the individuals in question, as well as their IP addresses and any correspondence, bank records or other information connected to their Twitter activity.

Jonsdottir kept up criticism of the U.S. government’s move throughout the weekend, most recently writing: “The US government is trying to criminalize whistleblowing and publication of whistleblowing material, puts journalists at risk in the future.”

Other Icelandic officials have joined in the protest, including the country’s foreign minister, Oessur Skarphedinsson, who was quoted in European media reports blasting the United States’ move to investigate an elected official of another country as “intolerable.”

Interior Minister Oegmundur Jonasson expressed similar concerns, calling the investigation “serious and peculiar.”

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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