NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Twitter handed tweets from an Occupy Wall Street protester to a New York criminal judge on Friday after months of fighting a subpoena from prosecutors in a closely watched case pitting privacy and free speech advocates against law enforcement.
The company surrendered the micro-blogging posts – an inch-high stack of paper inside a mailing envelope – to Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino. They will remain under seal while a request for a stay by the protester, Malcolm Harris, is heard next week in a higher court.
Harris, 23, was one of hundreds arrested during a mass protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011. The Manhattan district attorney’s office wants the tweets, which are no longer available online, to try to undermine Harris’ argument that police appeared to lead protesters onto the bridge’s roadway only to arrest them for obstructing traffic.
Twitter and Harris had challenged the subpoena but Sciarrino rejected their arguments in June. Twitter has filed an appeal, which is scheduled to be heard in November.
The case involves a thorny legal question that has rarely, if ever, been tackled by courts: whether Twitter users have the right to go to court to fight requests from law enforcement for their tweets.