LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks' Twitter account details have been subpoenaed by U.S. officials, the secret-spilling site announced Saturday, adding that it suspected other American Internet companies were also being asked to hand over information about its activities.
In an e-mail statement, WikiLeaks said that U.S. investigators had gone to the San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. to demand the private messages, contact information, and other personal details of founder Julian Assange and three people associated with the secret-spilling website.
WikiLeaks blasted the court order, saying it amounted to harassment.
"If the Iranian government was to attempt to coercively obtain this information from journalists and activists of foreign nations, human rights groups around the world would speak out," Assange said in statement.
A copy of the court order, dated Dec. 14 and posted to Salon.com, said that the information sought was "relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation" and ordered Twitter not to disclose its existence to Assange or any of the others targeted.
The order was unsealed "thanks to legal action by Twitter," WikiLeaks said in its statement. Twitter has declined comment on the claim, saying only that its policy is to notify its users, where possible, of government requests for information.
U.S. officials have been examining possible charges against WikiLeaks and its staff following a series of spectacular leaks which have embarrassed officials and tarnished Washington's image. The U.S. State Department has said that the website's latest leak — the disclosure of thousands of confidential diplomatic cables — has harmed U.S. diplomacy and could put human rights activists and others at risk.
WikiLeaks denies that charge, saying that Washington is acting out of embarrassment over the revelations contained in the cables.
Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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