Federal Court Hearing Today on Wikileaks Investigation Methods

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A hearing is set Tuesday in a courthouse in Alexandria, VA which will determine how far the Justice Department can go in its efforts to investigate Wikileaks activists.

CNet reported February 8 on freshly unsealed documents related to the case. The DOJ wants the authority to access Twitter accounts of those suspected to have been involved in the State Department leaks. While the persons under investigation are not American citizens, information stored by an American company could be fair game for federal investigators.
Prosecutors had sent a request to Twitter in December. Initially it was sent in secret, but somehow the suspects found out and asked Twitter to confirm. Attorneys for the activists pushed back, questioning if Twitter could be forced to comply and wanting more of the process to be carried out in public.
Current law allows prosecutors to access online information as long as it is specifically helpful to a criminal case. The DOJ argues that Twitter accounts of the suspects provide “relevant and material” clues as to whether they conspired with Julian Assange. It is not known if the suspects will deny involvement or if they simply think Twitter should be off limits; thus far they haven’t said much to reporters.

The hearing will decide how much prosecutors should disclose and whether Twitter accounts are relevant enough to be searched.

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