WikiLeaks has demanded that Google and Facebook reveal the contents of any US subpoenas they may have received after it emerged that a court in Virginia had ordered Twitter to secretly hand over details of accounts on the micro-blogging site by five figures associated with the group, including Julian Assange.
Amid strong evidence that a US grand jury has begun a wide-ranging trawl for details of what networks and accounts WikiLeaks used to communicate with Bradley Manning, the US serviceman accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of sensitive government cables, some of those named in the subpoena said they would fight disclosure.
"Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into WikiLeaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain," WikiLeaks said in a statement.
The writ, approved by a court in Virginia in December, demands that the San Franscisco-based micro-blogging site hand over all details of five individuals' accounts and private messaging on Twitter – including the computers and networks used.
They include WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Manning, Icelandic MP Brigitta Jonsdottir and Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp. Three of them – Gonggrijp, Assange and Jonsdottir – were named as "producers" of the first significant leak from the US cables cache: a video of an Apache helicopter attack that killed civilians and journalists in Baghdad.
The legal document also targets an account held by Jacob Appelbaum, a US computer programmer whose computer and phones were examined by US officials in July after he was stopped returning from Holland to America.
The court issuing the subpoena said it had "reasonable grounds" to believe Twitter held information "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation".
It ordered Twitter not to notify the targets of the subpoena – an order the company successfully challenged.
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