As Julian Assange remains hidden in London’s Ecuadorian embassy to avoid a Swedish extradition charge on much-debated rape allegations, his government-secret revealing website Wikileaks has soldiered on, despite the opposition of the United States and some its allies around the world. While much of their campaign against Wikileaks has been quite visible, a previously unknown offensive maneuver nearly three years ago has now surfaced.
On order of a digital search warrant in March 2012, Google turned over all of the information — including personal e-mails and IP address locations — that the company had on three Wikileaks staffers: British editor of WikiLeaks Sarah Harrison, Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, and senior editor Joseph Farrell. You can watch Sarah’s direct response to the news in the link in the Wikileaks tweet below.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 25, 2015
Google’s decision to hold off revealing the disclosure of this sensitive information is being officially rebuked by Wikileaks. The search-engine giant finally told Assange’s organization about the warrant on Christmas Eve last year, reported the Guardian.
“When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed. Google said the non-disclosure orders had subsequently been lifted, though it did not specify when… Harrison, who also heads the Courage Foundation, told the Guardian she was distressed by the thought of government officials gaining access to her private emails. ‘Knowing that the FBI read the words I wrote to console my mother over a death in the family makes me feel sick,’ she said. She accused Google of helping the US government conceal ‘the invasion of privacy into a British journalist’s personal email address. Neither Google nor the US government are living up to their own laws or rhetoric in privacy or press protections.'”
Oddly enough, the news comes just after Julian Assange released a book called When Google Met Wikileaks, in which Julian argues that Google and the U.S. State Department are significantly intertwined.
“It turns out that Jared Cohen, who is the co-author of that book with Eric Schmidt, The New Digital Age, he had immediately worked for Hillary [Clinton], just months, in fact, before coming to see me. He had previously worked for Susan Rice in the State Department, and he’d been an adviser. And he had made a transition straight out of the State Department into Google with Eric Schmidt… Eric Schmidt constructed, within Google, a sort of mini State Department. And that little mini State Department is called Google Ideas. And he made Jared Cohen the head of Google Ideas. And then, so the question is: What does Google Ideas do? What does Jared Cohen do? What sort of functions does it have? And I investigate that and those documents in the book.”
Google’s decision not to reveal the information is mirrored by a similar case involving Wikileaks and Twitter. The Justice Department ruled against Icelandic MP and former Wikileaks volunteer Birgitta Jonsdottir‘s claim that the government did not have the right to cloak its moves to collect private information, reported the Guardian.
[Image via Pamela Drew, Flickr]