US subpoenas Twitter for Wikileaks info

The request follows Wikileaks' release of a cache of secret government cables

The U.S. Department of Justice served Twitter with a subpoena seeking information about the accounts of the Wikileaks organization, its founder Julian Assange and other members and supporters, according to Twitter posts from people involved and documents published by Salon.com.

The DOJ sent Twitter the subpoena on Dec. 14, but it remained sealed until Jan. 5 when a judge granted Twitter's request that it be allowed to notify the users whose records had been requested, according to copies of the documents posted by Salon.com late Friday night.

The DOJ wants information dating back to Nov. 1, 2009, about Twitter user names, messages, physical and e-mail addresses, Twitter session times, IP addresses and credit card and bank account information.

Wikileaks is a nonprofit organization that publishes classified, confidential documents, often from government agencies. The DOJ probe likely focuses on Wikileaks' release in November of hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department. The situation has alarmed and embarrassed the U.S. government, which has condemned Wikileaks, saying the release of the documents endangers the country's national security and the safety of soldiers and U.S. government workers.

It wasn't clear Saturday if Twitter had turned over the information.

In addition to Assange, the DOJ is also seeking information from the accounts of Iceland parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir and U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is suspected of having assisted Wikileaks with obtaining classified documents and is now in jail awaiting a court martial proceeding.

Separately on Saturday, Assange and Jonsdottir criticized the DOJ, saying the agency shouldn't be forcing Twitter to turn over information.

Speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP), Jonsdottir said Iceland's justice minister is looking into the issue at her request. "I am speaking to U.S. lawyers ... because I want to try to stop that Twitter needs to hand over this information," she told AFP.

Neither the DOJ nor Twitter responded to requests for comment.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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