In what WikiLeaks called a “serious violation of the privacy and journalistic rights of WikiLeaks’ staff”, Google handed over the information under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge in 2012. Google then wrote to Wikileaks on Christmas Eve 2014, telling the group that it had complied with an order from the Justice Department to hand over digital data including all email and IP addresses of three WikiLeaks staff members.
The data requests are thought to be related to an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks, launched in 2010. It is related to the publication of hundreds of thousands of US government secrets tand cables that were provided by Chelsea Manning.
In a letter published this morning, WikiLeaks said that it was “astonished and disturbed” by the news. It referenced similar cases with Twitter, where the social network resisted similar warrants and after legal challenges won the right to tell its users about such requests.
It asks for Google to provide information on why it didn’t tell WikiLeaks that the search warrant was issued. It also asks whether Google initiated any legal challenge to the warrants and for detail on the timeline and any further warrants issued to Google.
The letter was signed by the three staff members involved in the case, as well as Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ lawyer, and Michael Ratner of the legal advocacy group Center for Constitutional Rights.
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