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Bank Julius Baer lawsuit
In February 2008, the wikileaks.org domain name was taken offline after the Swiss Bank Julius Baer sued WikiLeaks and Dynadot, the wikileaks.org domain registrar, in a court in California, United States, and obtained a permanent injunction ordering the shutdown. WikiLeaks had hosted allegations of illegal activities at the bank's Cayman Islands branch. WikiLeaks' U.S. Registrar, Dynadot, complied with the order by removing its DNS entries. However, the website remained accessible via its numeric IP address, and online activists immediately mirrored WikiLeaks at dozens of alternative websites worldwide.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion protesting the censorship of WikiLeaks. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press assembled a coalition of media and press that filed an amicus curiae brief on WikiLeaks' behalf. The coalition included major U.S. newspaper publishers and press organisations, such as the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press, the Citizen Media Law Project, the E. W. Scripps Company, the Gannett Company, the Hearst Corporation, the Los Angeles Times, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Newspaper Association of America and the Society of Professional Journalists. The coalition requested to be heard as a friend of the court to call attention to relevant points of law that it believed the court had overlooked (on the grounds that WikiLeaks had not appeared in court to defend itself, and that no First Amendment issues had yet been raised before the court). Amongst other things, the coalition argued that:
"WikiLeaks provides a forum for dissidents and whistleblowers across the globe to post documents, but the Dynadot injunction imposes a prior restraint that drastically curtails access to Wikileaks from the Internet based on a limited number of postings challenged by Plaintiffs. The Dynadot injunction therefore violates the bedrock principle that an injunction cannot enjoin all communication by a publisher or other speaker."
The same judge, Judge Jeffrey White, who issued the injunction vacated it on 29 February 2008, citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction. WikiLeaks was thus able to bring its site online again. The bank dropped the case on 5 March 2008. The judge also denied the bank's request for an order prohibiting the website's publication.
The Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, commented:
"It's not very often a federal judge does a 180 degree turn in a case and dissolves an order. But we're very pleased the judge recognized the constitutional implications in this prior restraint."
- "About Dynadot". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- "Dynadot Service Agreement". Retrieved 2011-08-25.
- "Wikileaks.org under injunction" (Press release). WikiLeaks. 18 February 2008. Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- "Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. et al. v. Wikileaks et al". News.justia.com. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
- "Judge reverses Wikileaks injunction". The Inquirer. 2 March 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- Philipp Gollner (29 February 2008). "Judge reverses ruling in Julius Baer leak case". Reuters. Retrieved 1 March 2008.
- Claburn, Thomas (6 March 2008). "Swiss Bank Abandons Lawsuit Against WikiLeaks: The wiki had posted financial documents it said proved tax evasion by Bank Julius Baer's clients". InformationWeek.