In a very unusual move, WikiLeaks has been subpoenaed via Twitter. In a tweet on Friday, a law firm representing the Democratic National Convention in its civil lawsuit against WikiLeaks and other defendants served legal documents formally notifying the non-profit that it is being sued. The lawsuit also names a long list of other people and organizations, including the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, that the DNC claims worked together to sway the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
@wikileaks By Court order, you are being served with the following legal documents: https://t.co/ICg8qWnsUy, https://t.co/ZP2tTPJ4pb, https://t.co/RKue30s4hM, https://t.co/q5g0G1rQpQ.
All of these documents may be found here: https://t.co/NOCgvQhh2j.
— Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll Process Server (@ProcessServiceC) August 10, 2018
The Twitter account has no other tweets and appears to have been set up this month by Cohen Milstein, the DNC’s law firm, for the purpose of serving papers to WikiLeaks.
The DNC filed a motion in federal court in Manhattan last month, asking for permission to subpoena WikiLeaks on Twitter after several unsuccessful attempts by email. The DNC argued that the WikiLeaks Twitter account is very active and an April tweet appeared to confirm that the organization was aware of the lawsuit.
Though using Twitter to serve legal documents is unusual, it has legal precedent, with the DNC noting that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had previously decided that Twitter could be used to notify defendants who had an active account.
In addition, another social media network, Facebook, has also been used to serve legal documents before.
WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, who is currently living under asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The DNC lawsuit argues that the massive trove of internal DNC emails released by WikiLeaks in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, including ones written by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta, was part of a conspiracy to damage Clinton’s presidential run and “destablilize the U.S. political environment.”