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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Protester Fights Hunt by DA for Months of Tweets

MANHATTAN (CN) - An Occupy Wall Street supporter says the Manhattan district attorney abused his power in subpoenaing months of Twitter posts.

Malcolm Harris, a 22-year-old writer, was among the more than 700 people arrested for disorderly conduct on Oct. 1, 2011, as Occupy Wall Street protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.

On Jan. 26, prosecutor Lee Langston subpoenaed Twitter to turn over Harris' Tweets from Sept. 15 to Dec. 31, 2011.

Harris' attorney with the National Lawyers Guild cried foul over the maneuver Monday in a 20-page motion to quash.

"The subpoena seeks all contents (tweets) and account information of the defendant for a 3 1/2 month period," according to the motion authored by Martin Stolar. "This is potentially a vast trove of information: some personal, and some associational."

Stollar called the request as an effort to chill political speech.

"There is simply no justification for seeking such a broad swath of electronic data as part of prosecuting a minor charge related to one event on a discreet date," he wrote. "This is yet another example of the city of New York overstepping the boundaries of the law in order to chill the legitimate political expression of critics of government policies."

Langston's subpoena sought Tweets made up to three months after Harris' arrest and two days before the Occupy Wall Street movement officially began with the convergence on Zuccotti Park.

Stolar told Courthouse News in a phone interview that none of his colleagues representing Occupy Wall Street activists have been faced with Twitter subpoenas.

"The first case and only case that I'm aware of," Stolar said.

The District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the matter.

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