March 6, 2008

Bank Julius Baer Drops Wikileaks Lawsuit

Switzerland's Bank Julius Baer dropped its lawsuit against the Web site Wednesday, just days after U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White reversed his order to shut down the rebel Web site for posting classified bank documents.

The bank didn't provide a reason for their decision, and said they reserved the right to re-file at a later date.   A report by Associated Press said the bank's attorney William Briggs did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Judge White had ordered the shut down of the Wikileaks site after Bank Julius Baer sued Wikileaks and Dynadot, the company that controls Wikileak's domain name.  The bank said it wanted to stop "the unlawful dissemination of stolen bank records and personal account information of its customers."

Dynadot subsequently shut down Wikileaks in exchange for being removed from the lawsuit.

However, the judge's order later backfired on Bank Julius Baer when it led to the disputed documents being spread further across Internet as other Web sites posted the same material out of solidarity with Wikileaks, and Wikileaks posted the documents on "mirror" Web site properties outside the United States.

After widespread criticism from free speech advocates and media organizations, Judge White reversed his earlier decision last Friday and ruled the Web site could be re-established and continue to post the documents until the lawsuit was resolved.

Wikileaks, an activist organization that aims to expose corruption through the display of leaked government and corporate documents, was not present at that hearing.   However, Judge White said he agreed with lawyers representing the free speech and media organizations that his initial ruling likely violated free speech laws.

According to an Associated Press report, Wikileaks claims it has posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents that it says expose unethical behavior, including a 2003 operations manual for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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