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Bank Drops Case Against Wikileaks

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March 6, 2008

Swiss Bank Julius Baer announced today that it’s dropping its lawsuit against whistleblower website Wikileaks.

If you’ve been following the case, you know that it all started when the bank filed a lawsuit against the site because of some documents posted there by a former bank employee that allegedly detailed illicit activities by the bank in the Cayman Islands. A federal judge initially ordered (PDF) the domain name disabled, which meant none of the documents posted there- related to the bank or otherwise- could be accessed through that domain name.

On Friday the judge dropped that order after hearing arguments from the ACLU and others citing glaring First Amendment issues inherent in shutting down the domain name. The website was accessible through again on Friday night.

The ACLU argued that the First Amendment prohibits a court order blocking access to a domain name, making it harder for the public to access all of the information found there, in response to a dispute over some of the documents posted there. We’re glad the order was reversed, and we’re glad the litigation is over. We hope there’s a lesson here that will keep future cases from leading to unnecessary suppression of information.