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Crime & Courts

New York prosecutor subpoenas ‘Occupy’ Twitter accounts

  • jeff rae

    Occupy Wall Street protester Jeff Rae had his Twitter account subpoenaed after he was arrested for disorderly conduct last October. (

  • jeffrae tweets

    A sampling of tweets from Jeff Rae during the October 1st march on the Brooklyn Bridge

New York prosecutors have subpoenaed the Twitter accounts of key "Occupy Wall Street" leaders, has learned.

As many as five protest leaders, most of whom were arrested for disorderly conduct on Oct. 1 for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge, were sent notifications by Twitter attorneys stating that the Manhattan district attorney had requested the information, including tweets sent out between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31, as well as subscriber information such as devices used and IP addresses.

The letter states that the account holder has seven days to inform Twitter if they intend to file a motion to quash -- or ask a judge to nix the subpoena -- at which point the site would hold off on the request pending a decision from the court.

Some of the protesters were baffled by the subpoena.

“It’s a bit surprising because all my tweets are public,” said Jeff Rae, of Washington, D.C., who received the notice from Twitter and was arrested during the Brooklyn Bridge incident. “All I said was that people were getting arrested. It was nothing specific.

“It’s definitely unnecessary. They are digging for much more information and it’s such a minor case.”

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan DA declined to comment on the matter.

“To help users protect their rights, it is our policy to notify our users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so,” a spokesman for Twitter told

Rae has filed a motion to quash and is due back in a New York courtroom on Monday. Another protester, Malcolm Harris, filed for a motion to quash as well when he received notice of a subpoena for his Twitter account.

In a written response to Harris’ motion, which was filed in court in February, prosecutors charged that he was fully aware that police had issued a warning not to go on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“The reason the subpoena requested defendant’s tweets is that defendant has made clear through various statements that he was well aware of the police instructions that day, and acted with the intent of obstructing traffic on the bridge,” the document reads.

Rae, whose tweets from that day are still posted on his profile, likened protesters to demonstrators who used social media to bring down the government in Egypt last year. But police say they created a potentially dangerous situation by unlawfully blocking the bridge between lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, in direct defiance of the law.


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