Anti-Wall Street protester's Twitter posts subpoenaed

NEW YORK Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:46pm EST

Occupy Wall Street protesters meditate while a sign bearing their twitter handle hangs from a railing in Zuccotti Park in New York October 1, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Occupy Wall Street protesters meditate while a sign bearing their twitter handle hangs from a railing in Zuccotti Park in New York October 1, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prosecutors have subpoenaed the Twitter records of an Occupy Wall Street protester who was arrested in October during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The January 26 subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office seeks "user information, including email address," along with three months' worth of tweets from @destructuremal, the Twitter handle for Malcolm Harris.

Harris, 23, a freelance writer and editor who lives in the New York borough of Brooklyn, said Tuesday that Twitter sent a copy of the subpoena to him on Monday. He posted it -- where else? -- on Twitter.

"When you get an email from Twitter Legal, you assume it's a phishing scam, trying to get your password," he said. "It turned out that it is a phishing scam, but it's from the prosecutors."

It is not clear what specific evidence prosecutors are after. But the subpoena is an example of posts on social media sites posing potential legal problems for authors.

Harris said his lawyer, Martin Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild, would file a motion to quash the subpoena. Twitter has agreed not to comply with the subpoena while Stolar prepares the motion, Harris said.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office declined comment.

The subpoena seeks Harris' tweets from September 15 -- two days before the Occupy Wall Street movement began -- to December 15. Harris is not sure what tweets could be fodder for prosecutors; Twitter's interface does not allow him to review all of his old tweets.

Stolar was not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the case but confirmed that the San Francisco-based company's policy is "to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so," in order to protect users' rights.

Harris is one of hundreds of Occupy-related defendants whose cases are still winding their way through the court system. A special courtroom has been set up to handle more than 1,800 cases in New York, the vast majority involving misdemeanor charges.

He was charged with disorderly conduct and is due back in court on February 29. Like a number of Occupy protesters, he has vowed to take the case to trial rather than accept a deal from prosecutors.

The National Lawyers Guild is representing many of the arrested protesters.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (4)
FatherJames wrote:
…You can get supoena’d for almost anything for almost any reason. A lawsuit that I was not party to… both sides thought that I might know something… Served by both sides… demanding, among other things… any diaries or personal papers that I might own… Consider yourself warned…

Jan 31, 2012 9:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AZAFVET wrote:
Meanwhile the Banksters that stole Billions are going Scott Free.

Feb 01, 2012 11:34am EST  --  Report as abuse
johnygo wrote:
was this the suppression of the OWS?

Feb 02, 2012 12:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.