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- As WikiLeaks' Assange Freed on Bail, Alleged Military Leaker Bradley Manning Imprisoned under Inhumane Conditions (12/16/2010)
- WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on Iraq War Logs, "Tabloid Journalism" and Why WikiLeaks Is "Under Siege" (10/26/2010)
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the latest in the Obama administration's crackdown on the whistleblower group WikiLeaks. Last week, it was revealed the Justice Department has subpoenaed the internet company Twitter for personal information from several people linked to WikiLeaks, including its founder, Julian Assange.
The subpoena asks Twitter for all records and correspondence relating to their accounts, including apparently private direct messages sent through Twitter. The subpoena was issued on December 14th, but Twitter was under a gag order until last week. It's unclear if Facebook or any other internet companies have received similar subpoenas.
The subpoena asks for the complete account information of five people: Julian Assange; Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist who was arrested in May on suspicion of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks and remains in solitary confinement for over seven months; WikiLeaks' two computer programmers; and Birgitta JÃ³nsdÃ³ttir, a member of the Icelandic parliament. She collaborated with WikiLeaks, including on its release of classified U.S. military video footage of the deadly helicopter attack on Iraqi civilians that took place on July 12th, 2007.
She arrived in Canada this week, and she joined me via Skype from Toronto for an interview. I began by asking her how she first found out about the subpoena.
BIRGITTA: I got this subpoena with--asking for all this extra information, not only my tweets. Of course, I don't care if they have access to my tweets; it's public. I just find it disturbing that they are asking for all the other information and that they're doing this under gag order. And I'm not familiar with the U.S. law, but I think it is possible because of the terrorist law or increased legislations to spy on citizens in the United States because of 9/11. And I also am concerned about all the other social media, including Google Mail and so forth. And I find it to be important to stand firm against simply handing over this information, not just for me, but for everybody else that uses these social services.
AMY GOODMAN: How exactly did they get in touch with you, did the U.S. authorities get in touch with you?
BIRGITTA: Well, they didn't. I got a letter from Twitter, where they notified me and the others about the fact that they had been requested to hand over this information and that they had managed to unseal the sealed document. If they would have done as U.S. authorities requested them to do, to hand this over within three days without letting us know, then obviously I would not be talking about this right now and would not have had any opportunity to defend myself.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean that the U.S. is subpoenaing information of an Icelandic member of parliament, Birgitta?
BIRGITTA: Well, I think that opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to parliamentary immunity worldwide. And that's why Icelandic authorities are taking this very seriously. And the foreign affairs minister and the justice minister have both said that they are concerned about this and are looking into this. And the president of the Icelandic parliament, equivalent to the speaker of the House, is looking into the legalities around this issue.
And let's just turn the tables around, and like, currently there's an investigation into how Iceland became a part of the Coalition of the Willing for the Iraqi war, and there's an investigation in our parliament. Let's say that I would like to get the information from all members of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. Senate in relation to their knowledge about war crimes in Iraq. Would the U.S. authorities feel comfortable with that? Let's say every member of parliament that has ever fought for Tibet or Taiwan or other countries that China is not happy about, would the rest of the, like, let's say, the United States parliamentarians be happy if China would order, have similar orders on their privacy?
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what Twitter did? They challenged the gag order in court. Then they told the targets, among them, you, Birgitta JÃ³nsdÃ³ttir, that their data was being requested, giving you a chance to try and quash the order yourself. But, so what has Twitter done at this point? They've told you.
BIRGITTA: They told me Friday. I got a letter from them Friday, last Friday, that I had 10 days to do something about this. And they also suggested that I would be in touch with EFF and other similar organizations.
AMY GOODMAN: Electronic Frontier Foundation.
BIRGITTA: Yes, which I did. I actually have to say that I'm quite happy with how Twitter handled this. And I certainly hope--I haven't gotten any letters from the other social media that I use. I certainly hope that they have, if they have gotten similar subpoenas, stood firm like Twitter.