Monday, January 10, 2011

US ambassador summoned by Iceland FM over Wikileaks Twitter subpoena

This weekend saw the revelation that a Virginia court has, on behalf of the US government, ordered the communications website Twitter to hand over all personal information about certain individuals linked to Wikileaks; including Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir.
Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the American ambassador Luis E. Arreaga to a meeting this morning after the American government ordered personal information to be released by Twitter in the run-up to a possible lawsuit against Wikileaks. One of the people affected is Birgitta Jonsdottir, a sitting member of parliament for The Movement and a member of the Foreign Policy Committee.

The ministry undersecretary and an international law specialist sat the meeting on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, reports.

They called for more information from Washington and expressed their deep concern that a criminal investigation should be directed at a sitting member of the Althingi parliament in such a manner. Birgitta Jonsdottir enjoys parliamentary immunity within Iceland and her colleagues in Althingi are supporting her, for the most part.

According to Urdur Gunnarsdottir, information officer at the Ministry, the Icelandic side also stressed to the US ambassador that there should be no further hindrance to Jonsdottir’s political work; including the freedom to travel and the ability to take full part in international political discussions.

Visir reported earlier that Jonsdottir is on her way to Canada to give a speech on the progress of the Iceland Modern Media Initiative (an idea put forward by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, under which Iceland hopes to become a haven for legally-enshrined free speech). Her plans changed at the last minute and she will now change flights in London instead of in the USA, as had been her original travel itinerary.

In gathering evidence for a possible legal case against Wikileaks, there has so far been no indication that Birgitta Jonsdottir personally did anything illegal — a fact which makes the case particularly strange. It is highly unusual for a government to target a serving parliamentarian in an allied nation in this way. Jonsdottir is in consultation with American lawyers to appeal the court’s decision and the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs has committed to defending her.

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