Twitter’s top legal executive steps down in surprise move

Twitter’s top legal executive steps down in surprise move

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter's top lawyer, known as a champion of free speech, unexpectedly stepped down on Friday as the microblogging company moved closer toward a long-expected initial public offering.

Alexander Macgillivray, known for fending off legal challenges to Twitter users' right to express themselves in pithy, 140-character messages, himself tweeted the news without giving a reason for the move.Alexander Macgillivray, known for fending off legal challenges to Twitter users' right to express themselves in pithy, 140-character messages, himself tweeted the news without giving a reason for the move.

But Macgillivray, who became Twitter's general counsel in September 2009, said he would continue to support the San Francisco-based company as an adviser.

Twitter declined to comment, but said Macgillivray would be replaced by Vijaya Gadde, who has been managing the company's corporate and international legal work. Gadde is a former senior director in Juniper Networks Inc's legal department.

Gadde has deep experience in corporate and securities law, while Macgillivray's specialty is intellectual property.

Twitter, which has more than 200 million active users, is widely expected to go public in 2014.

Macgillivray, who has been credited with coining the motto that Twitter is the "free speech wing of the free speech party,"helped shape Twitter's reputation as a champion for its users'rights over the years.

In 2012, Macgillivray's legal team fought a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester's Twitter posts, and resisted when India's government asked Twitter to take down tweets considered inflammatory.

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