U.S. government targets WikiLeaks with secret court orders

After first going after Twitter for information about accounts of WikiLeaks supporters, now the U.S. government has obtained secret court orders forcing Google Inc. and the Internet provider Sonic.net to hand over the email addresses of anyone who has corresponded with WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum during the past two years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After fighting the court orders and losing, Sonic already has provided the information to the government, and it is unclear whether Google has done so, as well. The secret court orders are adding fuel to the flame when it comes to the debate over the controversial Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which allows the government to obtain email and cellphone information without a search warrant, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters explained.

While Appelbaum, 28, has not been charged with anything, WikiLeaks has been a U.S. target since it made public thousands of secret diplomatic cables as well as classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Earlier this year Twitter got caught up in the U.S. Department of Justice's criminal investigation into WikiLeaks, as the government demanded information about the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks supporters. So far Twitter has resisted.