The site for leaked documents went offline last week following a California judge's order that its domain name records be disabled to satisfy the demands in a complaint from lawyers representing Bank Julius Baer (BJB), a Swiss bank.
Despite the ineffectiveness of the judge's order, his decision to block the entire site has been widely condemned by legal experts as excessive.
But the disassociation of a single .org domain name with Wikileaks' servers has done little to make the site's documents inaccessible. The .org site can still be reached via its IP address (188.8.131.52) as well as through a variety of different domain names, such as wikileaks.ws, wikileaks.be, and wikileaks.cx.
The judge hearing the case subsequently issued a second order that demands the removal of BJB documents from all of the Wikileaks sites. As of Tuesday evening, Wikileaks.org does not resolve to the Wikileaks servers.
Wikileaks described itself as "the first intelligence agency of the people. Better principled and less parochial than any governmental intelligence agency, it is able to be more accurate and relevant. It has no commercial or national interests at heart; its only interest is the revelation of the truth. Unlike the covert activities of state intelligence agencies, Wikileaks relies upon the power of overt fact to enable and empower citizens to bring feared and corrupt governments, and corporations to justice."
The organization began operating in December 2006 and remained relatively unknown until early 2007. It has accumulated approximately 1.2 million leaked and contributed documents, some of which have formed the basis of major news stories, such as revelations about "corruption perpetrated by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi."
Attorneys representing BJB describe Wikileaks as an illegal enterprise. "Wikileaks not only solicits and receives submissions of unlawfully obtained documents, its operators thereafter summarize and describe the contents of such documents, re-publish information contained therein, and otherwise exploit the stolen documents for their own unfair and unlawful business practices," the BJB complaint states. "Wikileaks' conduct makes it complicit with its submitters of leaked and stolen documents."
The documents at the center of the case supposedly detail tax evasion and money laundering by wealthy BJB clients in the Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States.
BJB claims the documents came from Rudolf Elmer, formerly senior VP and COO of BJB's Cayman Islands office. "Elmer unlawfully took the client bank records and data at issue in violation of Swiss and Cayman Islands banking and privacy protection laws," the complaint claims. "And, Elmer violated his written confidentiality agreement with respect to disclosure of these records."
Elmer, according to a summary written by Wikileaks contributor Daniel Schmitt, has denied any involvement with the leaked documents and has complained about harassment from private investigators hired by BJB. The BJB complaint goes so far as to call him a terrorist for allegedly making threats to blow up a bank.
A spokesperson for Wikileaks didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.