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Court issues ex parte order to disable 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 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 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 and

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RE: this doesnt seem right
By Alexstarfire on 2/19/2008 3:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it would cause harm to the bank. You think they want to be implicated with money laundering? Course not. I'm not sure exactly what all is on WikiLeaks, but if it's things like this that expose criminal activities of companies then I don't see how the judge could do what he/she did. I mean, it's not like the spilled the secret recipe to Coca-Cola.

I do see why it shouldn't be allowed though, depending on the means uses to procure the secret documents, but when the incriminating bank is the one to press charges you can only assume that the document is real and accurate. I'm sure they just don't want to do jail time.

RE: this doesnt seem right
By Proteusza on 2/20/2008 5:49:33 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I dont understand it either. On the one hand, they may be copyrighted - but surely you have to apply for a copyright? You cant just claim something is sensitive and therefore needs to be protected.

What if I took a photo of myself committing a crime, and the police got hold of it? Would I be able to claim that the police unlawfully hold my photo? Come on.

I think perhaps the judge either wasnt aware of the full situation, or knew which side his bread was buttered on.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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