Google disclosed secret search warrants six months after judge’s unsealing order.
- posted February 11, 2015
Public docketing and confirmations to the clerks in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia by the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, who was responsible for filing all three search warrants for WikiLeaks staffer’s email content in March 2012, reveal that Google waited six months to disclose the existence of the search warrants by the U.S. Department of Justice, despite a May 15, 2014 ruling by Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson to unseal the search warrants for the limited purpose of informing the three WikiLeaks staffers.
On December 23, 2014, Google’s Legal Investigation Support notified three WikiLeaks staffers that search warrants had been issued for the content of their email accounts in March 2012.
Google also stated that it had been subject to a nondisclosure or “gag” order, which prohibited the Internet Service Provider from disclosing the existence of the search warrants to the three WikiLeaks staffers until late December 2014.
According to Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate at the Washington Post, Google says it fought gag orders in the WikiLeaks investigation since January 2011.
What is not clear is why Google waited six months to notify Sarah Harrison, Joseph Farrell, and Kristinn Hrafnsson of the existence of the search warrants.
I asked Albert Gidari, a partner at Perkins Coie, a law firm which represents the tech giant for comment. He directed me to Google’s corporate headquarters, adding that he is limited from making comments because he is bound by a gag order. Google did not responded to my request for comment by the time of publication.