Swiss Bank was denied the closure of whistleblowers website
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U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White reversed his initial decision of shutting
down the wikileaks.org domain of Wikileaks, a website where whistleblowers
can untraceably leak documents.
Wikileaks, launched in early 2007, has anonymously posted documents
revealing delicate subjects such as the infiltration of agents of the Stasi,
the former East German secret police, into the commission investigating
their organization or massive corruption in Kenya.
The Swiss bank Julius Baer sued Wikileaks, at the beginning of February
2008, in relation to documents posted to the site that were showing
corruption in the bank’s Cayman Islands branch allegedly used by bank
clients to launder money, hide assets and evade taxes. The Bank had obtained
a temporary injunction of the domain on 15 February and signed an agreement
with domain name registrar Dynadot to redirect the Wikileaks.org domain name
to a blank page.
The judge initially ruled on shutting down the domain. Julius Baer lawyers
had told White that the case was about protecting privacy rights of
customers as information on them were disclosed in the documents revealed by
the site, considered by the bank as stolen. The judge’s initial decision
had also been due to the lack of reaction from Wikileaks at that time.
White admitted that his earlier injunction had had “exactly the opposite
effect as was intended” as “..the press generated by this Court’s action
increased public attention to the fact that such information was readily
accessible online.” He reconsidered his position and dissolved the agreement
with Dynadot after getting a better understanding of the issues in the case
and following reactions from various news and civil liberties groups that
revealed the problematic issues raised by the case and argued that White’s
order to shut down Wikileaks.org was violating free-speech rights.
In addition, he stated that federal courts could not take cases between two
foreign nationals, and that he “may well lack subject matter jurisdiction
over this matter in its entirety.” A lawyer was also sent to the court by
the person who claims to be the owner of the Wikileaks domain name.
Bank Julius Baer’s decision to file the action against Wikileaks has proven
a bad one as following the judge ruling and the bad press, the bank declined
4.8 percent in value.
Court deals blow to online whistleblowers (23.02.2008)
Wikileaks restraining order a failure, judge says (3.03.2008)
Baer Drops After Losing Bid to Disable Wikileaks.org (Update1) (3.03.2008)