WikiLeaks looking for answers after Google handed private emails to FBI

Three years ago, Google handed over emails and other personal digital data, belonging to three WikiLeaks staff members, to the FBI.

WikiLeaks has responded with a written demand for answers, saying it was “astonished and disturbed” that Google waited more than two and a half years to notify its subscribers.

The open group’s lawyer Michael Ratner asked Google to list all the data provided to the FBI, and asked whether the company did anything to challenge the orders.

The subjects of the warrants were the investigations editor of WikiLeaks, the British citizen Sarah Harrison; the spokesperson for the organisation, Kristinn Hrafnsson; and Joseph Farrell, one of its senior editors.

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.

It took the company three years to admit giving the information to WikiLeaks because of the non-disclosure orders imposed by the Bureau.

The orders have been lifted sometime around Christmas, when Google notified WikiLeaks about the data handover.

The FBI ordered Google to hand over practically all digital communications from and to the three. Those included the contents of all their email messages, all draft messages and deleted communication.

The order also included the source, the destination of the mails, the date and time, as well as the size and length of all emails.