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Freedom of Information for a Select Few: MP

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TEHRAN, May 10 (ICANA) – In an ironic turn of events, US courts violate basic human rights as they subpoena an MP's personal information from social-networking websites to target the whistle-blower site Wikileaks.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 7:38:22 PM
Freedom of Information for a Select Few: MP

In an interview on Press TV's The Real Deal program, Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of parliament in Iceland and NATO Parliamentary Assembly, elaborates on the double standard of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as it subpoenas social-networking websites for her personal information, yet the DOJ claims the Wikileaks website exposes classified government information.

Q: You have been in trouble with the American courts in the last week. They have decided that your “Twittering,” and your “Facebooking,” and your emails are all their property; or, at least they're entitled to read them all. Tell us what that's all about.

Jonsdottir: Well, because I co-produced the radio program entitled “Collateral Murder” with the [US] Apache helicopter killing civilians and reporters in Iraq.

When I put my name out there as a co-producer and active volunteer for Wikileaks, they apparently think they can send out their fishing nets for trying to get information to charge Julian Assange for spying which is, of course, very farfetched.

It also explains why they are treating Bradley Manning the way they are doing because they are trying to break him down; need-less-to-say that he has been in solitary confinement for nearly 10 months now. He just turned 23.

I am actually very glad that the US authorities decided to go after my information to raise awareness about the situation when it comes to your right as a user of social media in the United States. Your rights are basically, according to the judge's ruling last week, limited.

You do not have the right to defend yourself as an individual. You have to rely on either Twitter, Facebook, or Google if authorities want to pry into your information. And it's quite common.

The only reason how I got to know about this court in Virginia requesting my information was because Twitter decided to fight on behalf of me and the others. We were actually five they requested to get the information from, but originally they requested to get this information from Twitter without our knowledge within 3 days.

I am very happy with the way Twitter handled this. But I haven't heard anything from either Facebook or Google when, obviously, Twitter information is much less relevant than all the information I have on Google.

Q: That's globalization, isn't it? You are an Icelandic citizen, a citizen of the European Union, an elected Member of Parliament, and Facebook, Twitter and Google have personal contractual relationships with you -- which are, presumably, legally protected -- but the American government, just by virtue of the fact that these companies are headquartered in the United States, can order through the courts the books to be open, your personal mail to be open, and as you say your Twitting won't be particularly profound -- nor Twitter is -- but when they get into your emails, of course all of your rights are being violated.

Jonsdottir: I don't have any proof for that claim, but I'm trying to find out these through my lawyers, if we can get through the legal system, if they requested that information.

Apparently, according to the ruling, this is the case. There are no documents in relation to me, through a grand jury, which my lawyers can get. So it's quite a mysterious case.

Q: Well, it's part of the bigger picture which you yourself just said. There's a witch-hunt against Julian Asaange, Bradley Manning, a 23 year-old military man who is being treated worse than any Guantanamo Bay inmate; and now you, an Icelandic Member of Parliament, because of your connection to Wikileaks whistle-blowing, telling the truth to the world about atrocities. The US state, even under that “nice man” President Barack Obama, is bearing down on you all.

Jonsdottir: It's quite interesting, isn't it? Because of all the promises both him and Hillary [Clinton] have made about Guantanamo Bay and also about transparency --the right to express yourself and freedom of information -- it appears that it's only for a select few.

I think it is that we are at a very critical time right now when it comes to freedom of information and I really urge everybody that are watching this show to make themselves aware of the fact that when we write an email, whenever you create contacts on Facebook, that can be a subject of governments to try to criminalize you if you are an activist, for example.

I think it is very, very important that we make ourselves aware of it. And it is time to call for action. We need to demand, as you suggested, that the rights that we sign up when we join this media should be reinstalled as “I want to be able to defend myself.”

Actually, in my case it is very interesting because it opened up a whole Pandora's Box because I am not only a Member of Parliament but I am also on the Foreign Affairs Committee and on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and this issue has been discussed twice at the IPU, the International Parliamentary Union, and they are writing a report on it that will be presented in April.

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