Science

Whistle-blowing website back as judge reverses shutdown

Wikileaks.org is back online in the U.S. after a judge on Friday reversed his order to have the whistle-blowing website temporarily shut down in mid-February.

Wikileaks.org is back online in the U.S. after a judge on Friday reversed his order to have the whistle-blowing website temporarily shut down in mid-February.

The site, which describes itself as a repository for leaked documents and analysis of the ethical wrong-doings of governments and corporations, was back online over the weekend after U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White lifted an injunction he granted on Feb. 15.

Judge White shut the site down at the request of Switzerland-based Bank Julius Baer & Co., which said that Wikileaks was distributing confidential bank documents. The site said the documents "allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures" for money laundering, tax evasion and other misdeeds.

The judge ordered the domain-name registrar for Wikileaks in the United States to disable its web address and ordered the site owners not to distribute the bank documents. The documents, however, were still widely available on Wikileaks websites in other countries.

The orders drew criticism and court filings from numerous organizations advocating the First Amendment protection of free speech, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In his reversal, Judge White acknowledged that the bank's request posed serious First Amendment questions and could constitute unjustified prior restraint. He also expressed frustration that the law could not seemingly stop the flow of information once it was put online.

"We live in an age when people can do some good things and people can do some terrible things without accountability necessarily in a court of law," he said.

now