The Wikileaks ‘whistleblower’ site that was forced by a court order to shut down its primary domain after a complaint from Swiss bank, Julius Baer & Co, is back online after a judge ruled in its favour.
Reversing the injunction of 15 February against Wikileaks, US District Judge Jeffrey White appears to have had second thoughts about his earlier decision to order the suspension of the site’s main domain, wikileaks.org.
Julius Baer & Co had launched the legal action after copies of documents appeared on Wikileaks that appeared to show that it had helped customers to launder money illegally through the Cayman Islands, a suggestion the bank rejects.
The site was little-known before the case, but has since become a cause célèbre, attracting the fervent support of civil libertarians the world over. Indeed, Judge White, who has come under intense immense pressure from this constituency in the US, was forced to concede that the shutdown did raise "serious questions of prior restraint (on speech) and possible violations of the First Amendment."
Some days ago, Julius Baer & Co distributed a press statement claiming that, on the contrary, the leaking of documents harmed privacy rights. The bank claims the documents are, in any case, forgeries.
“It is not and has never been Julius Baer’s intention to stifle anyone’s right to free speech. Indeed, Julius Baer has specifically made no attempt to remove material on the website which refers to the organisation but which does not include information personal to its customers,” the bank said in the statement.
Judge White has now conceded that the US courts might not have jurisdiction over Wikileaks at all because the bank had failed to prove that is was based in the country. During the fortnight in which Wikileaks.org remained offline, the site carried on through a long list of mirror domains.
In his parting shot on a troubled case Judge White was reported as bemoaning the "definite disconnect between the evolution of our constitutional jurisprudence and modern technology."
“Maybe that’s just the reality of the world that we live in. When this genie gets out of the bottle, that’s it,” he said.