Historic judgement lets WikiLeaks` Assange tweet in court

WikiLeaks` Julian Assange`s bail hearing has made legal history, as the judge conducting the proceedings allowed reporters to send live updates of the case on the social networking website Twitter.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010, 00:19 AM IST

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange`s
bail hearing has made legal history, as the judge conducting
the proceedings allowed reporters to send live updates of the
case on the social networking website Twitter.

Howard Riddle, the Chief Magistrate of a district court
here, relaxed the rules and agreed that reporters could send
the short messages, known as "Tweets", as long as they did so
"quietly" and "did not disturb" the court, `The Daily
Telegraph` reported today.

It said the majority of the tweets were posted by Alexi
Mostrous, a Times journalist, and Heather Brooke, the Freedom
of Information campaigner.

Although there is no central rule banning the use of
mobile phones or other electronic devices in court, in
practice they are prohibited during hearings.

But it emerged that senior judges are "actively
considering" whether courts should allow Tweets, the paper
said.

The report noted that the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge,
in a lecture in Belfast last month openly pondered an easing
of restrictions.

"If it is possible to file a story via e-mail from a
laptop in court, then why Twitter is any different?" he asked.
"On the other hand tape-recordings are prohibited by statute.

Why is Twitter in the form of text-based transmission of
material from court any different?"

A spokesman for the judiciary was quoted as saying by the
paper: "The questions raised by the Lord Chief Justice in his
recent lecture regarding the use of Twitter and the principles
of open justice are under active consideration by the senior
judiciary."

39-year-old Assange was yesterday granted bail by the
court on strict conditions in a case related to charges of
sexual assaults against him in Sweden but he will remain in
prison as Swedish prosecutors decided to appeal the judgement.

The court had earlier granted Assange conditional bail
on the requirement of a bond amount of 240,000 pounds, among
other conditions to ensure that he does not flee the country.

PTI