Court targets Web site over bank documents


February 15, 2008


A federal judge in San Francisco ordered a California-based, domain name registry firm, Dynadot, to effectively shut down the Web site,, after the site posted documents concerning a bank in the Cayman Islands. Judge Jeffrey S. White later that day narrowed the injunction, ordering the removal of the documents and links pertaining to Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company of the Cayman Islands. As of February 20, however, the site remained unavailable at its usual Web address.

Wikileaks defines itself as an “uncensorable” Web site “for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.” Wikileaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes,” and to “be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.”

The bank told the court that “a disgruntled ex-employee who has engaged in a harassment and terror campaign” had provided stolen documents to Wikileaks in violation of banking laws, according to The New York Times. Wikileaks claimed “the documents allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion,” the Times said.

The court rulings appeared to result from a stipulation between Julius Baer Bank and Dynadot, according to an analysis by Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Citizen Media Law Project.

Although the site was unavailable at its usual address, “mirror sites” carrying the same information were available at addresses registered in Belgium, Germany, and the Christmas Islands. It was also available through its Internet protocol address, a series of numbers that specify its precise location on the Internet, according to the Times.

The site has posted other sensitive documents such as a purported list of rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq, the Times said. Wikileaks said that it had been previously restricted in China and Thailand over documents leaks.