Why Did A California Court Hide All Of WikiLeaks Over A Single Document?

from the seems-excessive dept

Over a year ago, we wrote about the Wikileaks project, designed to allow government and company officials to anonymously leak documents as a way of whistleblowing questionable activities. Apparently, it’s been quite successful at times. However, in doing so, it’s also building up a list of enemies, including one who has apparently convinced a California court to make the entire site disappear in the US. The Swiss banking group, Julius Baer, was upset by documents found on the site that they believe were posted by a former VP at the bank, alleging that the bank was involved in money laundering operations. Julius Baer’s lawyers claim that having these documents public could influence ongoing litigation in Switzerland (one assumes having to do with money laundering). While it’s understandable that the bank might not want those documents online, or that those documents might impact current litigation, that doesn’t explain why the California court ordered the entire site offline, demanded that its registrar block the transfer of the domain, force the registrar to point all visitors to a blank page and also having the registrar hand over all information on IP addresses of people who accessed the wikileaks site. All of that seems rather excessive, and of questionable legality. After all, doesn’t Section 230 of the CDA provide safe harbor for the service provider? I could see an order demanding the specific documents be taken down, but the rest of the order seems to go well beyond what’s both reasonable and standard in cases of this nature. The folks behind Wikileaks are equally perplexed, noting that they were only given a few hours warning before the hearing, meaning they were unable to attend or send representation. All in all this seems rather excessive, especially compared to existing similar cases on record. Even odder about all of this is that since the court went after the registrar, not whoever is actually hosting the site, you can apparently still reach the actual site if you know the IP address.

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Companies: julius baer, wikileaks

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Comments on “Why Did A California Court Hide All Of WikiLeaks Over A Single Document?”

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angrydemon says:

Re: Government = the crooks

First off Mr. conspiracy nut, learn to use proper English.

Second there will always be a difference between companies and government – just one will use the other.

Third I bet you are a liberal who wants more and more government, which will only realize your fear.

Fourth go jump in front of a speeding train. You give our unfortunately shared name a bad reputation.

Danny says: and the bank will likely go after that sometime soon.

But this will backfire. At this point, no doubt, lots of people are replicating the material and will put it up elsewhere. Further, the publicity (which will embarrass the Judge who made the ruling as others weigh in on it) will lead to orders of magnitude more people knowing about this case than would have known about it otherwise.

And the best we, as TechDirt readers, can do is help get that word out 🙂

designmemetic says:

Re: asdf

Judge is doing good job and not an idiot.

Under US law this situation is the only avenue for overturning or amending DMCA. If the judge had not taken site down then wikileaks would have won the case. Therefore they would have no case to appeal and therefore could not challenge the DMCA on any grounds at all. It’s a sure bet some hotshot lawyer at Wikileaks has been waiting for the “right” case to challenge the DMCA laws on. When it’s all over the DMCA laws will be amended, the lawyer will be famous, and the bank thing will still be tied up in courts because the money wants the problem to go away till the money makers have planned their get away. So in this case the money wants the DMCA fight to last long so they can plan thier evasions, the wikileaks lawyer wants the fight to be big so they can challence DMCA on a winning case. it’s a win win situation for both legal parties.

designmemetic says:

Re: Re: asdf

The real beauty of this case is that The Bank doesn’t give a rats A bout the DMCA laws and will happily indulge wikileaks by taking up as much court time as possible to make wikileaks overturn as much DMCA as it can all so they can buy a few more days or months of freedom from prosecution. So if their is other unjust part of DMCA the bank wants to try to enforce it so Wikileaks will fight to have it overturned and be slower.

Coises (user link) says:

There’s something fishy about this. Maybe it means I’m destined for a tinfoil hat some day, but I’m always inclined to think it’s more likely that people with power and money are intelligent than that they are stupid.

There can’t be many halfway Internet-savvy folks who don’t grasp the Streisand effect by now. It makes no sense, legally or practically, to take down an entire well-publicized domain name over a single, identified document.

So I’d guess that the document is of no real importance and the bank doesn’t really care about it; but either they or (more likely) someone else is using this as a pretext to throw a monkeywrench into Wikileaks ? at least for a few days or weeks ? in order to hide something of greater concern which will not be identified.

Of course, a conspiracy theory can never be shown to be true unless the conspiracy fails.

steve says:

the Judge was following the law.

Sadly, I think the judge may have been acting properly in this case. After reading the transcripts of the correspondence on the Wikileaks mirror site it seems more like wikileaks was trying to evade a court order. Under US law a court order has to be given to a specific person at a company legally responsible for answering and enforcing court orders such as subpoena. It’s not a law system I personally feel results in justice, but it is the one we have.

If the judge didn’t do as directed he would have been overturned on appeal. as it stands wikileaks lost this round and will have to appeal the decision and it will probably go up the ladder to the next higher court. Or maybe not, the next higher court can simply reject the request for an appeal by wikileaks. In order to appeal the decision wikileaks must now assume the burden of proof and somehow show the court actions were illegal. Most likely they will appeal on first amendment grounds and argue the the way the court resolved the problem was overbearing. Probably most people would agree with the overbearing claim and most likely the resolution method is the legal precendent wikileaks will be challenging. Maybe they can force a revision to the DMCA laws on this basis. I wish them luck.

this is just the first round in a long legal chess game. Someone, probably wikileaks, has grown tired of the current laws, and after waiting for a case it thinks it can win has picked a fight.

Sadly the only way to change an unjust law in US is to break it and then get arrested or punished for it and finally appeal the punishment as unjust to overturn the bad law. It’s not possible in the US to just appeal a law without a case in question and you certainly don’t want to appeal a bad law like the dmca Law in a situation where people would agree with the law such as a chinease company making thousands of illegal copies of the latest apple OS version. It is precisely because this particular use of the law was so wrong headed that Wikileaks chose to use it for the fight to challenge DMCA and create a new precedent and new law. and incite a court verdict with the hope of apealing it and eventually setting a new precedent that will become a law. The real question we should be asking, is what legal precedent exactly does wikileaks hope to set with this action?

steve says:

Re: ps. the judge must know all this.

p.s. the judge in question is probably aware of all this and if he had given wikileaks more warning it would have made their appeal and new precedent harder to achieve. As it stands now with all the media hoopla it’s virtually assured to be reviewed by a higher court. So the judge is maybe just allowing himself to play the role of the bad guy in order to bump the fight up to the next highest court where a victory by wikileaks can change law for everyone instead of just changing a single case.

The judge: In 2005, White allowed environment groups and four municipalities to go forward with a lawsuit against federal agencies. The basis for the lawsuit was a claim that the federal government is contributing to global warming by funding various overseas projects.

Josh says:

Re: the Judge was following the law.


You’re mistaken. If you read the email correspondence between Wikileaks and the law firm that initially contacted them, the law firm refused to give any specifics regarding what documents were involved, refused to give any information other than “Legal proceedings will be commenced” in California, the UK and Switzerland. Wikileaks repeatedly asked for specifics so that they could provide the name of a lawyer that would be representing them. Obviously an international website with thousands of documents relating to issues in dozens of countries with a large pool of lawyers all over the world needs specifics to give a law firm correct contact details.


Alan says:

Re: Re: the Judge was following the law.


I thought so, too, at first. If you reread the emails you will see the law firm was asking for contact information. In other words, who should we contact. Companies are required to have a registered agent. Wikileaks ignored that request and insisted instead on getting the client details. If the law firm wanted to have a confidential discussion with an attorney rather than a fairly open email exchange, such a request without disclosing the client, just the jurisdictions involved, would be completely appropriate. I doubt either party was being cooperative, but, rather, were just posturing–in the law firm’s case with the judge, and in Wikileak’s case with future general public support.

Overall, I’m on the side of Wikileak. Hopefully, the end result will be something good.

Josh H says:

Step back

Everybody take a step back for a second. There is a lot of misinformation here concerning the reality of the judicial process.

As it states in the article, the order was entered without Wikileaks present. That means it was what is called ex parte. In nearly all jurisidictions, a party seeking an ex parte order must post a bond to cover potential damages of the unrepresented party. And the unrepresented party is guaranteed an opportunity to appear and litigate the issue, usually within a few days of the initial order. Lastly, in these situations, a judge is very likely (like it or not) to sign the proposed order of the petitioning party. She probably didn’t quite understand the ramifications of the order she signed, but she knew it would be reconsidered in a few days, and the petitioning party posted a bond to cover any damages if the decision was ultimately incorrect.

Wait a few days on this one before you throw the judicial system (the entire government?) down the drain, folks.

Josh H says:

The Court has scheduled a hearing for 2/29/08. The amended order of court requires only the allegedly offending documents to be taken down. While inclusion of the ISP in the lawsuit seems problematic under the DMCA, they were not ordered to take down the entire site wikileaks, just the offending documents. If the ISP unilaterally took down the entire site, it seems to me to be an issue between the ISP and wikileaks (two private entities), and thus does not implicate the first amendment.


Buddy George says:

Wrongful conviction government waste

A matter that needs investigated
On case#VA107160
People Vs buddy lee George?
Los Angeles superior court norwalk California division S
Judge the Honorable Roger Ito
Los Angeles county district attorney Kang.?
A case that can be proved as unconstitutional due to the following
1.) I was denied my due process rights.?
2.) the district attorney had me charged with prison priors and strikes that I did not have and it was not until after the verdict did she admit her mistakes.?
3.) I was denied to confront witnesses I supoened 5 officers and only one showed up.?
4.) the only witness that showed up was detective hakala from Whittier police department he was the lead detective and expert witness.?
5.) there was bias with the processing of evidence he used his own lab.?
6.) he lied under oath by saying he removed the drugs before the pre search video because he had a dog.?
7.) the evidence in the case had been destroyed before the trial
Evidence was destroyed 5-29-09
The verdict was read on 8-15-09
8.) henry salcidos law firm that represented me right before the trial caused a conflict of interest by violating attorney client privilege by having a meeting with the city of la mirada without my permission nor knowledge were he discussed my case were he was convinced by the city saying I should take a deal under the condition I move out of la mirada when I get out of prison.?
9.) Henry salcido also told me at one point he didn’t care If I was innocent or guilty I should take a deal.?
10.) he also told me at one point he was best friends with steve Cooley and if I gave him $180.000 and sign over the deed to our home he could make the case disappear.?
11.) their was two retired district attorneys that were working for Henry salcidos law firm that were also over familiar with sheriffs and narcotics department that were involved in my case.?
12.) through the whole case the la mirada mayor and council members had law enforcement harassing me their was about 300 or more calls made to law enforcement with the intent to have me harassed?
13.) I can also prove false imprisonment.?
14.) I was charged with possession for sales when no drugs were ever found to be in my possessing neither was any money ever recovered and according to the detective he found $13 dollars worth of drugs in our home all together in separate bags and only one had been tested the second one was never tested.?
15.) it was unconstitutional for detective hakala to target me when their was 5 occupants living in our home at the time.?
16.) the search warrant he used to get in our home the day he supposedly found the drugs was stamped denied.?
17.) the second search warrant had a type -o- error and the name on the search warrant was Walter Eugene Farris a guy that I don’t know and neither did any one els that lived in our home and he had never been in our home.?
18.)The attorney that represented me during the trial had not been given enough to to familiarize her self with my case the judge refused to give her time to overlook the case.
19.) after we picked the jurors one of the jurors was prejudice he said no matter what he would find me guilty because he hates drug dealers the judge still allowed juror # 19 to hang out with all the other jurors until he was replaced.?
The following needs to be investigated
1.) violation of due process rights
2.) my state and federal rights were violated.?
3.) false imprisonment
4.) harassment?
5.) negligent
6.) malpractice
7.) wrongful conviction
8.) officer misconduct
9.) judicial misconduct
10.) cruel and unusual punishment. Email below evidence when the evidence had been destroyed a email from detective hakala to district attorney kang.?
11.) the city of la mirada offered to buy our home at cost saying under the condition I couldn’t live in la mirada nor Whittier.?
12.)la mirada law enforcement was raiding our home practically daily.?
13.) before this case started detective jerry Reyes told me as he handed me his card with his hand writing on it that if I dident help him he would screw me.
14.) detective hakala and district attorney kang kept inflicting lies on the jury.?
15.) I was not on probation or parole when this case started.?
16.) our car had also been impounded 3 to 4 times every time officers said just tell us were the drugs are we won’t impound the vehicle and every time I was honest by saying I don’t have any drugs they impounded it any way.?
17.) detective hakala went through my confidential legal mail violating my constitutional rights instead of using normal mail he used a 42 u.s.c 1983 to identify me as living here during The trial mentioning a law suite involving Copley
18.) during the proceedings of the case no one had any idea I studied law I even represented my self in the federal courts I studied criminal and civil for about five years including 42 u.s.c $1983″s torts writs civic codes ethics even the CCR title 15 rules and regulations.?
19.) I’m hoping to resolve this with out filing in the federal courts I’m exhausting all remedies if the matter is not resolved then I’m given not much choice because I was wronged?
Sorry but this is frustrating I just want this matter looked into.?
20.) I can prove the following.?
1.)defamation of character.?
2.) false imprisonment.?
3.) negligence.?
4.) harassment.?
5.) malpractice.?
6.) wrongful conviction.?
7.) constitutional violations with my civil rights.?
8.) including $10.000 dollars of damage to our home.?
9.)reckless disregard. ?
10.) coaxing
11.) including due process rights involved in a criminal court proceeding involving corruption.?
12.) the situation that escalated?
Into this case was a incident involving a parole officer mr verimontes he worked for la mirada public safety and the Santa fe springs parole department in the year 2001
He was contracted by both at the same time their was a incident involved with are daughters boy friend driving a vehicle in a irate speed going to autozone test driving a 1997 ford explorer some car was parked 3 ft out from the curb?
And some kids were playing in the middle of the street they moved out of the street as he was driving up hill and swerved to miss the car when we got back a neighbor showed up cussing and yelling in a violent manner as I got out of the passenger side he was trying to provoke me I asked him to calm down he told me fuck you I said I have kids and theirs no need for this he stated bull I ignored him and went next door and eventually went to the store with our cousin next door not knowing while we were gone the neighbor had called the sheriffs by time I got home their was no law enforcement around but when I reported to parole I was giving him the heads up about possible call made to law enforcement with our address he asked did you have any police contact I stated no he said don’t worry about it then that nite shows up with law enforcement to arrest me for driving with out a license I was in jail double the normal time waiting for my bpt hearing mean while I hired a attorney for ADA issues he had no idea that the attorney representing me at board had investigated his wrong doing because he went to every neighbor showing first my whole criminal past then mug shots asking if they seen me driving the attorney caught him lying under oath at least 12 times the commissioner let me go home when I had got out mr verimontes told me pack up your shit your moving back to Sacramento in such a irate manner to were other people eventually had to get him he told me that if I appealed him he would get a petition with our neighbors so I reported to parole in Sacramento and while I was there I filed a 602 inmate appeal demanding It to be exhausted so I could file a 42 u.s.c $1983 I charged him with the following
1.) racial profiling?
2.) negligence
3.) harassment?
4.) deformation of character?
5.) false imprisonment?
6.) I filed to a copy of the bpt hearing tape only to find out it had been damaged 3 days after the hearing when it was not suppose to be damaged for 120 days were I was entitled to a copy of it only to be denied eventually the 602 complaint allowed me to come home after he was involuntarily moved from both jobs.?
7.) the city mayor and council members had sheriffs going through any lengths to get me for anything just to send me to prison also to force me to move from la mirada.?
8.) we had a 2002 ford explorer literally torn apart to the point it was not worth having the interior completely destroyed.?
9.) our home was stalked by sheriffs to the point our kids moved out.?
10.) their are witnesses to two sheriff deputies named Morris and tousey that work for the city of la mirada telling every drug addict that I am a kingpin and a drug dealer.?
11.) we even called the sheriffs about some one driving a car into our garage door they showed no interest in the damage done to our home.?
12.) the sheriffs also known our home had been broken into and vandalized on numerous occasions.?
13.) Morris and tousey also were telling people say his name you go free Morris and tousey are Los Angeles county sheriffs.?

Buddy George – VA107160From: joanne alberry
View Contact To: LAURIE YTARTE —————–
— Laurie,here is the email from the Detective?
telling the court that all the property was
destroyed. Sorry about all of it. Feel free to mail
me any payments you can at my office address
4229 Main St Suite 4 Riverside CA 92501 I will
let you know when I find an attorney who will
take on a governemtn entity. good luck to you
and Buddy,Joanne ———- Forwarded message
———-From: Date: Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 7:23
AMSubject: Fw: Buddy George – VA107160To:
joannealberry@gmail.com Hi Joanne, Per our
conversation, here is the email from Detective
Hakala confirming that the evidence was
destroyed. I will request that our matter be taken
off calendar today. Thanks. ———————-
Forwarded by Miriam Kang/DAUsers/NLADA on
09/25/2009 07:22 AM ————————— To:
cc: Subject: RE: Buddy George – VA107160 I
contacted our central property and the items
seized in the Buddy George case (408-15814-
0460-184) were dispoed on 05-29-09. Any other
questions just let me know. Eric ———————
From: MKang@da.lacounty.gov
[mailto:MKang@da.lacounty.gov]Sent: Thu
9/24/2009 2:49 PMTo: Hakala, Eric J.Subject:
Buddy George – VA107160 Hi Detective Hakala,
Just as a reminder, please email me a letter
confirming that the the property booked into
evidence for this case has been disposed of and
the date of disposal. Thanks so much!
Sincerely,Miriam KangDeputy District
AttorneyTel: 562-807-7211?

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