6 March 2008
SAN FRANCISCO, US – A Swiss bank quietly dropped its lawsuit against renegade Web site Wikileaks.org on Wednesday, days after a judge reversed his order to disable the site for posting confidential bank documents.
In court papers, Bank Julius Baer did not give a reason for dropping the suit and reserved the right to refile it later. Bank lawyer William Briggs did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Last month, US District Judge Jeffrey White ordered the Web site shut down after Bank Julius Baer sued Wikileaks and the San Mateo company Dynadot. The bank argued it was trying to halt “the unlawful dissemination of stolen bank records and personal account information of its customers.”
Dynadot, which provided the site’s US domain name, agreed to disable Wikileaks in exchange for the bank removing it from the lawsuit.
The judge’s order, however, backfired for Bank Julius Baer because it only led to bank’s information being spread further across the Internet. Several other Web sites posted the same material out of solidarity with Wikileaks, and Wikileaks posted the documents on “mirror” Web sites it owns outside the US
After enduring criticism from free speech advocates and media organizations, including The Associated Press, White reversed himself on Friday and ruled the Web site could reopen and continue to post the documents until the lawsuit was resolved.
Wikileaks, which bills itself as an activist organization that urges the posting of leaked government and corporate documents to expose corruption, wasn’t represented at that hearing. White, however, said he agreed with the dozen lawyers representing the critics that his initial ruling probably violated free speech laws.
The Wikileaks site claims to have posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents that it says expose unethical behavior, including a 2003 operation manual for the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
[Copyright ap 2008]