US request for Twitter account details `outrageous`: Assange

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 21:08

Stockholm: Washington`s efforts to get
Twitter to hand over information on the accounts of people
connected to WikiLeaks is "outrageous," WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange has said.

"This is an outrageous attack by the Obama
administration on the privacy and free speech rights of
Twitter`s customers -- many of them American citizens,"
Assange said in a statement yesterday, a day before a US
hearing in the case.

The US government`s attempts to get Twitter to hand
over information about the Twitter accounts of three WikiLeaks
supporters, is "more shocking, at this time, (as) it amounts
to an attack on the right to freedom of association, a freedom
that the people of Tunisia and Egypt, for example, spurred on
by the information released by WikiLeaks, have found so
valuable," he added.

A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia is scheduled
to hold a hearing tomorrow into the validity of a court order
in December requiring Twitter to provide information about
accounts belonging to Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta
Jonsdottir, Jacob Appelbaum, a US computer researcher, and Rop
Gonggrijp, a Dutch volunteer for WikiLeaks.

Iceland`s foreign ministry last month summoned the US
ambassador in Reykjavik to express "serious concern" about the
bid to obtain personal information about Jonsdottir, who
distanced herself from WikiLeaks a few months ago.

According to the whistleblower website, Washington is
in fact demanding that Twitter, a popular microblogging site,
"disclose the names, dates and locations of all persons who
have used its services to receive messages from WikiLeaks or
Mr. Assange."

The WikiLeaks statement yesterday described the
upcoming hearing as "the scene of the first round in the US
government`s legal battle against Julian Assange."

The US Department of Justice has been pursuing a
criminal investigation of WikiLeaks, which has obtained and
published hundreds of thousands of secret US military reports
and diplomatic cables.

WikiLeaks yesterday said it was glad Twitter is
resisting the subpoena, but said it had appeared other service
providers like Google, Facebook and Yahoo may also have
received a similar demand, and "may already have provided
information to the government."

"We are all asking all service providers to explain
whether they too have been served with a similar order, and
whether, they have caved into it," said Assange, 39, who is
himself currently awaiting a London court`s decision on
whether he should be extradited to Sweden to face rape and
sexual molestation allegations.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 21:08

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