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US orders Twitter to divulge personal info on Icelandic MP

wikileaks1 US orders Twitter to divulge personal info on Icelandic MP

The United States Department of Justice is allegedly attempting to obtain personal information from Twitter on a member of the Icelandic parliament who is known as a supporter of WikiLeaks.

“just got this,” Birgitta Jónsdóttir tweeted on Friday afternoon. “Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account in (relation to wikileaks).”

“usa government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009,” she continued a few minutes later. “do they realize i am a member of parliament in iceland?”

In response to tweeted requests for additional information, Jónsdóttir explained that she was “waiting for some legal advice before i will make this a foreign affairs issue.” She also noted, “i think i am being given a message” and called the experience “creepy.”

Greg Mitchell, who maintains a WikiLeaks news blog for The Nation, was one of the first to report on the series of tweets. He also provided additional background, writing that “Birgitta Jonsdottir was one of those WikiLeaks backers who — it’s been widely reported — allegedly had a falling out with Assange. She was particularly active in the Collateral Murder video action. She even took him as her guest to a U.S. Embassy party in Iceland. But she later was upset over Assange’s handling of the Afghan war logs which emerged with some key names not redacted. She has since been interviewed by the BBC and U.S. news outlets as a WIkiLeaks dissident. On ABC last month she said she had argued for Assange to step aside as WikiLeaks leader while the sex crime case was ongoing.”

Meanwhile, Jonsdottir had repeatedly updated her own situation. “The request for information from twitter is also for my personal information not just tweets,” she wrote. “Calling the justice minister of Iceland now.”

And then, “department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – i got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.”

Kim Zetter at Wired obtained further details from Jónsdóttir, who told her she was “looking for legal ways” to stop the subpoena and would be talking to lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“Jonsdottir told Threat Level that the request was filed under seal by the Justice Department on December 14 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia,” Zetter wrote. “This is the same jurisdiction where, according to previous press reports, a federal grand jury is investigating possible charges against Assange, with whom Jonsdottir has worked closely.”

Jónsdóttir also spoke with the Guardian, telling the British paper that “she was demanding a meeting with the US ambassador to Iceland.”

“The justice department has gone completely over the top,” she charged. “They are sending a message, it’s not just about my information. It’s a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I’m a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It’s my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse.”

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, told the Guardian that “it appeared the justice department was looking at building a case against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.”

“The government has the right to get information but that has to be done in a lawful way,” Rotenberg emphasized. “Is there a lawful prosecution that could be brought against WikiLeaks? It seems unlikely to me. But it’s a huge question here in the US.”.

Jónsdóttir has now responded to Mitchell directly, tweeting, “thank you for raising awareness about this, our fight for freedom of information is just beginning.” Her most recent tweet states defiantly, “I have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong – i have no intention to hand my information over willingly to DoJ.”

This appears to be only the beginning of the story, however. At 8:05 PM on Friday, Mitchell noted that “Jacob Appelbaum, recent visitor to Iceland, tweets: ‘Do not send me Direct Messages – My twitter account contents have apparently been invited to the (presumably-Grand Jury) in Alexandria.'”

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