GoDaddy pulls Pakistani website over CIA 'murder' case

US-based web hosting company GoDaddy demanded the removal of a controversial article concerning a top CIA operative in Pakistan, leading to the source of a story that went global being taken offline.

At the start of the month, GoDaddy demanded that “PakNationalists” removed an article that discussed a potential court case against Jonathan Banks, the CIA’s former Islamabad station chief who was accused of being responsible for allegedly illegal drone attacks on parts of Pakistan.

The article, which was removed but can be seen from the Google cache, was called “CIA Station Chief In Islamabad Sued For Murder And Terrorism.”

Following news of a court case being prepared against Mr Banks, who was allegedly in the country on a business visa and so had no diplomatic status, his position became untenable and was swiftly removed following a number of death threats.

The story was subsequently covered by many mainstream publications across the world, however GoDaddy demanded that the Pakistan-based site should remove the story.

According to the Seattle PostGlobe a statement was issued with a warning that “We ask that you either remove the content…or move you” – to another provider.

PakNationalists was given a 48 hour deadline, and received an email saying: “Please be aware that this decision [to remove the content] is final, and is not up for debate.”

The site was subsequently pulled on 5 January. That’s despite many sites still showing similar stories, including those based in the US, the only one targeted by GoDaddy is Pakistani.

“We inquired as to who could have made this complaint,” said Gulpari Nazish Mehsud, a Pakistani who helps manage the website as a volunteer. “The US company won’t give us a name, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess who is making the complaint.”