2011-01-11 Swiss whistleblower faces charges

Rudolf Elmer, founder of Swiss Whistleblower will appear in court on January 19. He was fired from Swiss bank Julius Bär in 2002, after which he sent documents to several media outlets and Wikileaks, exposing allegedly illegal activities by Julius Bär clients in the Cayman Islands. Wikileaks was briefly shut down by a US court following publication of these documents.

Unlike most whistleblowers, Elmer's identity was never a secret.

I wasn’t looking for anonymity. I signed the first whistle-blower letter to emphasise the credibility but also to show my civil disobedience. It is my conviction that my name is important. People then got in touch with me and I received additional information from other bank clients and further data.

The Associated Press has an article about the case, but apparently because of the unwillingness of the mainstream press to use the word 'whistleblower' in association with Wikileaks, the article either awkwardly refers to Elmer as the "Swiss banker who used WikiLeaks" or confusingly calls him a "Wikileaks informant".

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.

Jan Vonder Muehll, a spokesman for Julius Baer, confirmed Monday that the bank is one of the plaintiffs in the case against Elmer next week before the Zurich court. But he said the trial would focus on the earlier release of data to Swiss media, not their publication on WikiLeaks.

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