US targets Twitter to trap Assange over 'secret diplomatic cables' revelations

Washington, Feb 15 (ANI): The United States would reportedly try to obtain the names, dates and locations of Twitter users who had tried to communicate with Wikileaks, from the authorities of the social networking site, in an attempt to begin its legal proceedings against the whistleblower website's founder Julian Assange.

Legal proceedings against Assange will begin in a magistrate's court in Virginia today, The Age reports.

Twitter had reportedly received a court order through the US Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia, on December 14 last year, in which it demanded the accounts of Assange and Private Bradley Manning, the army intelligence analyst suspected of supplying classified information to WikiLeaks. It had also sought information about Twitter users like Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp, and US programmer Jacob Appelbaum, who had earlier worked with WikiLeaks.

Twitter, however, wants to fight a disclosure order as it too broad and breaches its right to protect the confidentiality and free speech of its users, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Assange's legal team have raised concerns that other internet companies like Google and Facebook might have surrendered their information without protesting. Washington is trying to build a conspiracy case against Assange for his role in obtaining hundreds of secret US diplomatic cables and releasing them later.

The paper quoted a WikiLeaks source as saying that the new tactic is an "attack on the right to freedom of association - a freedom that the people of Tunisia and Egypt, for example, spurred on by information from WikiLeaks, have found so valuable", and added that Twitter should be congratulated for challenging the court orders.

Assange will not attend the proceedings in the Virginia court because he is under strict bail conditions in Britain, and is fighting an extradition case to prevent himself from being sent to Sweden to face trial over sexual assault charges. (ANI)

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