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Bank Julius Baer & Co. v. Wikileaks

535 F. Supp. 2d 980 (2008)

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Bank Julius Baer & Co. v. Wikileaks

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

535 F. Supp. 2d 980 (2008)

Facts

Wikileaks (defendant) created an “uncensorable” website to leak untraceable material. Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company (Baer), a foreign banking institution, sued Wikileaks in federal court. Baer and its Swiss parent company (plaintiffs) applied ex parte for a temporary restraining order that prohibited Wikileaks from disseminating wrongfully obtained private banking records that implicated Baer’s clients in tax evasion, money laundering, and asset hiding. Wikileaks and other associated defendants were properly served but did not file any opposition by the deadline. The court granted a permanent injunction in which Dynadot, Wikileaks’ web host, agreed to disable the Wikileaks domain. The court also issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that prohibited Wikileaks and any other parties who received notice of the order from releasing the bank records. Along with the TRO, the court issued Wikileaks an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction extending the TRO should not be granted. No filings or oppositions were submitted by Wikileaks or any other interested party by the deadline. Mirror websites across the globe published the Baer bank records after the Wikileaks domain was disabled, and the media began widely covering the case. After the deadline, numerous amicus curiae briefs and other filings were submitted. The filings raised concerns that the case threatened the First Amendment protection of the right to receive information and ideas. The court held a hearing on Baer’s motion for a preliminary injunction requesting that the TRO be extended, and the court heard all concerned parties, including affiliates of Wikileaks who appeared.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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