WASHINGTON (AFP) — A website designed to let whistleblowers publish sensitive documents has been ordered shut down by a US federal judge at the request of a Swiss bank and its Cayman Islands subsidiary, court documents showed Monday.
US District Judge Jeffrey White in California, in an injunction order dated Friday, ordered the shutdown of the website known as Wikileaks.org
The judge ruled in favor of Swiss-based Julius Baer & Co. Ltd. and its Cayman Islands subsidiary Julius Baer Bank & Trust, saying that "immediate harm will result to (the bank) in the absence of injunctive relief."
White ordered the California web hosting company Dynadot to "immediately clear and remove" records from Wikileaks and "prevent the domain name from resolving to the wikileaks.org website or any other website or server other than a blank page," until the court can review the case further.
Wikileaks was launched in early 2007 with the help of Chinese dissidents to help whistleblowers in authoritarian countries post sensitive documents on the Internet without being traced.
It was aimed at "oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East," but also was being used to post "unethical" behavior in Western countries.
The shutdown came after the website posted documents relating to offshore activities of Julius Baer. A series of documents cited in the court order have titles that include "tax avoidance," "tax evasion," and "offshore tax scheme."
Wikileaks said in an e-mail statment: "The order was entirely written by Cayman Islands Bank Julius Baer lawyers and was accepted by Judge White without amendment, or representations by Wikileaks or amicus. The case is over several Wikileaks articles, public commentary and documents dating prior to 2003."
Despite the injunction, Wikileaks states that it will "keep on publishing, in fact, given the level of suppression involved in this case, Wikileaks will step up publication of documents pertaining to illegal or unethical banking practices."
WikiLeaks' website says the organization was founded by "Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa."
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