Twitter surrenders protester's tweets to court

Kioskea on Friday September 14, 2012 11:56:27 AM


A member of the group \

A member of the group "Occupy Wall Street" hands out flyers on a sidewalk near Wall Street on September 13 in New York City. Twitter submitted to a New York court ruling and handed over tweets sent by an Occupy Wall Street protester accused of disorderly conduct.

Twitter on Friday submitted to a New York court ruling and handed over tweets sent by an Occupy Wall Street protester accused of disorderly conduct.

Although the protester, 23-year-old Malcolm Harris, is only accused of a minor violation, the battle over access by the authorities to his tweets has brought intense attention to his case.

In Manhattan Criminal Court, a lawyer for Twitter handed over a thick wad of paper in a sealed envelope to Judge Mathew Sciarrino.

However, in a compromise, the judge agreed to keep the tweets sealed until Harris has a chance to make an appeal in a week.

Prosecutors say they want Harris' tweets because they could prove he knew he was violating the law during a 2011 protest by Occupy on New York's Brooklyn Bridge, when hundreds of people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Harris says he was following police instructions.

Twitter initially refused to hand over the tweets, but was ordered by the court to do so or be fined for contempt. After denial of a final request in court Friday to stay the order a Twitter lawyer complied.

Harris' lawyer, Martin Stolar, said "we are disappointed that Twitter is essentially giving up the fight."

Harris' case goes to trial in December and he faces a maximum of 15 days in jail or a $500 fine.

© 2012 AFP

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