Julius Baer Bank and Trust v. Wikileaks

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

02/06/2008

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

California

Disposition: 

Injunction Denied
Injunction Issued
Withdrawn

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
On February 6, 2008, Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company, a Cayman Islands banking entity, filed suit in federal court in California against Wikileaks, which is developing an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." ... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Wikileaks; Dynadot LLC, Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization

Location of Party: 

  • Switzerland
  • Cayman Islands

Location of Party: 

  • California

Legal Counsel: 

Garret D. Murai (for Dynadot); Thomas R. Burke, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (for media amici); Karl Olson, Levy, Ram & Olson LLP (for intervenor Public Citizen and California First Amendment Coalition); Ann Brick, American Civil Liberties Union (for i
Description

On February 6, 2008, Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company, a Cayman Islands banking entity, filed suit in federal court in California against Wikileaks, which is developing an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." Two days later, the bank and its Swiss parent company filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order seeking to enjoin Wikileaks from publishing or distributing copies of documents the plaintiffs claim contain "stolen or otherwise wrongfully obtained confidential and protected bank files and records."

On February 15, 2008, the court issued what it captioned as an "Order Granting Permanent Injunction." This order, which appears to be the result of a stipulation between the plaintiffs and Dynadot, Wikileaks' domain name registrar and web host, required that Dynadot immediately disable the entire wikileaks.org domain name and account and remove all DNS hosting records.

Later that same day, the court issued an Amended Temporary Restraining Order that enjoins Wikileaks and and "all others who receive notice of this order" from "displaying, posting, publishing, distributing, or linking to . . . all documents and information originating from [the plaintiffs' banks] which are internal non-public company documents and/or which contains private client or customer bank records."

As of February 28, 2008, the Wikileaks.org domain is still down, but the organization issued a press release through one of its mirror sites:

Transparency group Wikileaks forcibly censored at ex-parte Californian hearing -- ordered to print blank pages -- 'wikileaks.org' name forcibly deleted from Californian domain registrar -- the best justice Cayman Islands money launderers can buy?

When the transparency group Wikileaks was censored in China last year, no-one was too surprised. After all, the Chinese government also censors the Paris based Reporters Sans Frontiers and New York Based Human Rights Watch. And when Wikileaks published the secret censorship lists of Thailand's military Junta, no-one was too surprised when people in that country had to go to extra lengths to read the site. But on Friday the 15th, February 2008, in the home of the free and the land of the brave, and a constitution which states "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press", the Wikileaks.org press was shutdown.

On February 28, Julius Baer issued a press release stating:

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 organization but which does not include information personal to its customers. However, Julius Baer denies the authenticity of this material and wholly rejects the serious and defamatory allegations which it contains.

Updates:

The court has scheduled a hearing on the injunction for February 29, 2008 at 9:00AM.

2/26/08 - Coalition of media companies filed an Amici Curiae brief primarily addressing the issue of prior restraints

2/26/08 - ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion to intervene

2/26/08 - Public Citizen and the California First Amendment Coalition filed a motion to intervene that argues that the court did not have jurisdiction in the case, and therefore had no power to issue the injunctions

2/28/08 - Plaintiffs filed opposition to the motions by Amici and potential intervenors

2/28/08 - John Shipton, the owner of the wikileaks.org domain, filed a Notice of Intent to Appear and Joinder in Motions & Oppositions of Amici/Intervenors

2/28/08 - Daniel Mathews, a user of the site who was served with the TRO by the plaintiffs, filed a Memorandum in Opposition to TRO, Preliminary Injunction, and Permanent Injunction

2/29/08 - Court held hearing on the TRO; judge vacated the Permanent Injunction against Dynadot and tentatively denied the motion for a preliminary injunction.

2/29/08 - Court issued Order Denying Motion For Preliminary Injunction; Dissolving Permanent Injunction; and Setting Briefing and Hearing Schedule

3/5/08 - Plaintiff banks filed a notice of dismissal, without prejudice, as to all parties

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Wiki

Subject Area: 

  • Trade Secrets
  • Newsgathering
  • Anonymity
  • Prior Restraints
  • Business Torts
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • California

Source of Law: 

  • United States

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Court Type: 

Federal

Case Number: 

3:08-cv-00824-JSW

Relevant Documents: