Washington — A U.S. magistrate in San Francisco has ordered Twitter to turn over to the Justice Department account whatever information it was about four of its users, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Army PFC Bradley Manning, the one-time Baghdad-based intelligence analyst accused of unauthorized downloading of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents.
The subpoena was issued Dec. 14, but was unsealed at Twitter's request so that it could notify the persons whose records had been demanded. In addition, to Assange and Manning, the subpoeana seeks the records of Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland's parliament and a former volunteer for WikiLeaks. She made public the complaint in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian on Friday.
The subpoena seeks, in addition to IP addresses and other account information, "records of any activity to and from the accounts" including the size of files that may have been transferred to them or from them.
In addition to Assange, Manning and Jonsdottir, the subpoena seeks the records of Rop Gangrijp, a well known Dutch Hacker. It also identified the three accounts by their Twitter usernames: rop_g, ioerror and birgittaj. "ioerror" is the Twitter username of Jacob Appelbaum, a longtime WikiLeaks supporter. Appelbaum is not named in the subpoena itself. Late Friday, he warned followers in a Twitter post not to message him privately — something Twitter allows — because "my twitter account contents apparently have been invited" to the grand jury.
The subpoenas mark an intensification of the Justice Department's efforts to tie WikiLeaks and Assange to Manning, who is currently jailed at the Marine Corps base at Qauntico, Va., facing charges that could send him to prison, if convicted, for 52 years. Pentagon officials have said that while prosecutors believe the files Manning is accused of downloading were passed to WikiLeaks, they have yet to establish a direct link between Manning and Assange. Without that link, it may be difficult to charge Assange with a crime in connection to the ongoing publication of the documents by the website.
Read The Guardian's account here.
The CNET.com website quotes Jonsdottir as saying that Twitter notified her of the order's existence and told her she has 10 days to oppose the request for information about her account since November 1, 2009.