Clint Brewer, President, (615) 301-9229
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211
INDIANAPOLIS — Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists are pleased with a district court’s decision to dissolve a permanent injunction against WikiLeaks host Dynadot, and to deny the motion for a preliminary injunction against Wikileaks — a Web site that invites people to post leaked material to discourage unethical behavior by corporations and governments.
Last week, SPJ joined several media organizations in an amicus brief in support of Wikileaks. The case, which many experts believe presents a major test to First Amendment rights in the Internet era, was brought to the federal court in San Francisco by Julius Baier Bank and Trust. The bank, which is based in the Cayman Islands, alleges that an ex-employee provided stolen documents to Wikileaks in violation of a confidentiality agreement and banking laws.
Following a four-hour hearing on Friday, Judge Jeffrey S. White considered the First Amendment, correctly noting that, “in all but the most exceptional circumstances, an injunction restricting speech pending final resolution of the constitutional concerns is impermissible.”
“This ruling is correct that these types of injunctions should be impermissible,” SPJ President Clint Brewer said. “Free speech is paramount to a democracy and whistleblowers should not be punished for bringing forth valuable information that serves the public’s right to know.”
Brewer and other SPJ Leaders argued that the judge’s previous order amounted to prior restraint against a Web site that disseminates information submitted by whistleblowers. In this particular case, a source reportedly submitted papers that showed money laundering and tax evasion schemes at the bank’s Cayman Islands branch.
Other media groups signing the amicus brief included: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Scripps Howard, Associated Press, American Society of Newspaper Editors, Gannett and the Newspaper Association of America.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists — the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization — promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For further information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.