A FORMER Spanish super-judge is threatening Google and the US with legal action after Google released three WikiLeaks journalists’ email data information to the FBI.
Baltasar Garzon, the head of the legal team working for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, denounced Google’s response to the FBI warrant requesting the wholesale hand-over of information which was issued in March 2012.
WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison, the organisation’s spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell, a senior editor, only found out that their information had been disclosed on Christmas Eve.
“This action is illegal and unacceptable,” Garzon claimed, adding it was an “attack on journalism and journalists, especially those working on security issues.
The whistle-blowing organisation argues it’s journalists’ constitutional rights were breached and that the warrant could have been challenged had its staff been informed of the request before it had been acted upon, lamenting Google’s failure to challenge it.
Google claimed a gag order had bound it up until last month, keeping it from revealing the existence of the legal proceedings.
“When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying, and if it doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed,” said a Google spokesman.
“We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.”
In a letter to Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, WikiLeaks wrote it was ‘astonished and disturbed’ over the time Google took to notify the journalists thus possibly not allowing them to protect their rights to ‘privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches’.
Google turned over a catch-all dragnet of digital data that included IP addresses and email content such as deleted, draft, sent and received emails, contact lists, along with the entire history of their email account.
Assange said: “Google is rolling over yet again to help the US government violate the constitution – by taking over journalists’ private emails in response to give-us-everything warrants.
Google’s action have been put into contrast by Twitter which challenged similar requests by the US government and although it ultimately failed, the social networking giant managed to alert its subscribers of the actions they were facing.
Meanwhile Assange faces extradition to Sweden over sexual assault and rape allegations and is taking refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy although he denies the claims and has yet to be charged.