Very positive. Many members of the European parliament have suggested using Iceland as a standard for upgrading laws into the reality we’re living in, where information doesn’t have borders. We’re seeing this freedom of information movement develop through legal means and through what WikiLeaks and others are doing. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU; they have special legal teams that are only focusing on civic rights online.
The reason why this is on the top of the debate everywhere is because it’s obvious that something is not right. And something needs to be done. Here is a great need and that’s why IMMI has gotten so much attention. For example, I’m doing interviews basically everyday with different sorts of media from around the world.
We founded an institution which is the International Modern Media Initiative. We have an international legal team that is also ready to advise other nations if they want to ask for it and the hope is that we can help.
We’re living in such interesting times because there’s been such shifts in perception and awareness about many things. There is much greater access to people and information now then ever before and then we go into another whole big debate that needs to happen right now, and that is our civic rights in cyber space.
You had a personal experience with that this winter.
In early January I got a letter from Twitter, saying we took a subpoena that was issued to us to the court to unseal it for you. And in the subpoena the Department of Justice is requesting all my back end information from Twitter, my IP number, all my personal stuff, my private Twitter messages. The subpoena ordered Twitter to hand it over within three days without my knowledge, which I found to be absolutely crazy, because I haven’t done anything criminal towards US authorities.
So did they end up giving your information?
Twitter managed to stop it and I was fortunate enough to get, since this is such a special case, free lawyers from both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU. We parliamentarians are constantly urged to use social media to be in better contact with our voters. I have to rely on the social media sites to have my back, and it might not always be in their interest.
What US authorities did with my case opened up a whole can of worms. But at the same time I’m thankful because it raises awareness about how little rights we have with our social media content in the US, our emails, everything.
Have you been charged with anything?
No. Iceland’s foreign affairs minister called the US ambassador and wanted to get some answers about what was going on, telling them that he was not pleased. So I got the message through him from the Department of Justice that I am not under a criminal investigation. I can travel to the US and I will not be a subject of involuntary interrogation. However, my lawyers in the US discovered that there are at least two or three grand jury documents related to me. So I don’t know. I’ve been advised by the Icelandic foreign minister not to travel to the States for the time being.
And you think this has to do with the investigation into Julian Assange?
Yes, because I co-produced the “Collateral Murder” video. And I was a spokesperson for Wikileaks in relation to the video, and then for a very brief period of time I was a spokesperson for the entire site.
And what Wikileaks did with the collateral murder video, and this is something very few people know, is that we did this in collaboration with state TV in Iceland. We sent off journalists to fact check what was found in this horrific video.
When I saw this video I felt obliged to do everything I could to show it.
At some point Iceland wants to start awarding an Icelandic prize for freedom of expression.
Yeah. We feel that it would be wrong to start the award, to puff our chest, before we have the proper shields. We want to make sure that we can protect the journalist or whistleblower that we would award. That will be the cherry on top.