A Swiss banker called Rudolf Elmer, the man who single-handedly pushed an American judge to shut down Wikileaks temporarily a few years ago (yes, it’s that old) faces trial this week.
This is repotedly the first time a WikiLeaks informant will go on trial, according to Businessweek.
Elmer, an ex-employee of Swiss-based bank Julius Baer, sent CDs with confidential files that reportedly showed the bank was helping its clients dodge taxes by establishing secret offshore accounts. He subsequently posted the same information on Wikileaks.
He’s been charged with coercion and violation of Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws.
From Bloomberg Businessweek,
Elmer said he will admit certain counts of coercion, but insisted he didn’t break Swiss banking secrecy laws because the files he distributed belonged to a Julius Baer subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, where he worked for the bank for eight years.
“This data wasn’t subject to Swiss banking secrecy,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.
The judge shut down the site after Julius Baer accused Elmer of taking part in “unlawful dissemination of stolen bank records and personal account information of its customer,” but reopened the site a few weeks later in response to uproar from free speech groups. The bank also discreetly dropped the U.S lawsuit.
The furor surrounding the case brought a serious amount of attention to Julian Assange’s site, and is generally accepted as important point in the development of public consciousness around the organisation.
It’s incredible to think that when the New York Times covered the case intially, it didn’t even mention the Wikileaks aspect.
In an interview with SwissInfo, Elmer talks about making contact with Wikileaks:
swissinfo.ch: How did you make contact with Wikileaks?
R.E.: We built up contact over encrypted software and I received instructions on how to proceed. My complaint to the European Court of Justice and my whistle-blower letter were both translated into English by Wikileaks lawyers and [editor-in-chief] Julian Assange.
swissinfo.ch: Did you meet Julian Assange?
R.E.: I don’t want to comment on that, since how Wikileaks works is meant to remain secret – also to protect them. Personal contact with Wikileaks staff took place.
swissinfo.ch: Do they check everything?
R.E.: I can only talk about the Julius Bär case. One thing that’s certain is that with Julius Bär, genuine and forged documents were published – the latter probably to spread disinformation since Julius Bär couldn’t shut down Wikileaks. Uploading fake data was the only way to question the credibility of the information on Wikileaks. Unfortunately this also shows that Wikileaks didn’t check the data professionally. This is a general weakness of Wikileaks. That said, one should as a matter of principle question all information, including that found in the media.
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