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.- Advertisement -
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.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know if Google, if Facebook, some of these--
BIRGITTA: I don't know, but I would very much like to know. And that's one of the things that I will be looking into getting information about through my lawyers.- Advertisement -
AMY GOODMAN: Birgitta JÃ³nsdÃ³ttir, can you talk about your involvement in WikiLeaks, how you got involved, what you've done?
BIRGITTA: Well, I've always been an activist, and I did fight very hard to try to stop the war in Iraq by organizing big protests in Iceland with others. And I did protest when I heard what was going on in Fallujah and so forth. So when I saw this video--Julian Assange showed it to me while he was in Iceland in March--I felt compelled to do everything I could do to help with it. So I both put my name on it as a co-producer, and I did a lot of research work. I coordinated volunteers in Iceland and basically did whatever I needed to do in order to make the deadline that we had set to make it noticed by collaborating with mainstream media, Icelandic State Television, and sent some people from there--Christian Hrafnsson and his assistant--to do--look into if they could find, for example, the children, which they found.
And then I have also acted as a spokesperson for WikiLeaks, and particularly for "Collateral Murder" and also when Julian Assange and the rest of us heard in the news that Bradley Manning had been arrested and on the grounds that he had leaked something for WikiLeaks. So, Julian went undercover in Australia, and I offered to act as a spokesperson while he could not do it himself.