U.S. orders Twitter to hand over WikiLeaks records

A U.S. court has ordered Twitter to hand over details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and several supporters as part of a criminal investigation into the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

The December 14 subpoena obtained by the Department of Justice and published by online magazine Salon.com on Friday said the records sought from the microblogging website were “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

It ordered Twitter to provide account information on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking Pentagon documents made public last year by WikiLeaks.

The information sought by the government includes all connection records and session times, IP addresses used to access Twitter, email and residential addresses plus billing records and details of bank accounts and credit cards.

The subpoena included the accounts of WikiLeaks supporters Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp and Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks volunteer and member of Iceland’s parliament.

“WikiLeaks strongly condemns this harassment of individuals by the U.S. government,” WikiLeaks said in a statement issued to Reuters by its London lawyer, Mark Stephens.

The U.S. government is examining whether criminal charges can be brought against Assange for helping to make public hundreds of thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that embarrassed Washington and several of its allies.

WikiLeaks said three of the four individuals targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice had never worked for WikiLeaks and were private citizens who supported its public disclosure work voluntarily as activists or politicians.

Two of them were instrumental in helping WikiLeaks make public the Pentagon video that showed a U.S. helicopter crew firing on Iraqi civilians, the statement said. WikiLeaks is instructing its U.S. lawyers to oppose the subpoena, he added.

Jonsdottir said she was seeking legal advice and had spoken to Iceland’s minister of justice, who was looking into the case.