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Court issues ex parte order to disable WikiLeaks.org domain, defendants given only a few hours' notice via e-mail

WikiLeaks, an “uncensorable” site that specializes in distributing sensitive document leaks and analyses, lost control of its primary WikiLeaks.org domain after a swift legal attack from Bank Julius Baer.

According to a WikiLeaks report hosted on one of the site’s many mirrors, attorneys representing Bank Julius Baer held a surprise hearing to force the site’s host, Dynadot, to delete the WikiLeaks.org domain name and prevent its transfer to another registrar.

The move followed an unsuccessful attempt to get WikiLeaks to remove hundreds of leaked documents that implicated the bank in money laundering and tax evasion activities.

According to a posted e-mail transcript, an attorney contacted WikiLeaks mid-January with a cryptic request demanding the site’s legal contacts, making no mention of the documents in question. When WikiLeaks asked the firm that sent the request for further information, discussions took a confrontational tone. “You have no legal right to demand advance knowledge of the name of our client and the documents at issue,” wrote Lavely & Singer attorney Evan Spiegel, “your site promotes, encourages and facilitates the publication and distribution of stolen, illegally and/or tortiously obtained corporate records.”

“You act at your own peril. Govern yourselves accordingly,” wrote Spiegel.

Lavely & Singer’s client, and the nature of its request, was not revealed until a brief phone call on January 22 between Spiegel and WikiLeaks’ pre-ligitation attorney, Julie Turner. Following that, WikiLeaks said it heard nothing further from Bank Julius Baer or its attorneys, until the surprise ex parte hearing last Friday.

A WikiLeaks press release, crafted hastily “due to time constraints,” says that it was given only a few hours’ notice of the hearing, and that it received that notice via e-mail. When Turner showed up at the hearing “in a personal capacity,” she was asked to leave the court room before proceedings began.

WikiLeaks said the injunction was written by Bank Julius Baer’s lawyers and accepted by a California district court judge without additional amendments.

Turner said she was surprised at the unusual legal request: “It’s like saying that Time magazine published one page of sensitive material so [someone can] seize the entire magazine and put a lock on their presses,” she said.

A representative for Bank Julius Baer declined to comment, citing the pending legal proceedings.

Despite the takedown of the site’s flagship domain, and a coincidental fire that knocked the site’s Swedish mirror – as well as a number of controversial piracy websites – offline, it remains accessible under a multitude of aliases, including www.WikiLeaks.cx and www.WikiLeaks.la.



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The shadow of secrecy...
By sh3rules on 2/19/2008 12:29:44 PM , Rating: 4
...protects indiscriminately (both the good and the bad guys) -Deus Ex reference. How much secrecy is necessary will always be a point of contention. I for one I’m glad that sites like that exist.




RE: The shadow of secrecy...
By Spartan Niner on 2/19/2008 8:45:09 PM , Rating: 3
I'm getting a strong urge to upload such things as a torrent... and let nature take its course ;)

Down with corruption! Hurrah for the free flow of information!


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