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Switzerland

Wikileaks And Banking: Swiss Bank Worker In Court After Spilling Beans On Clients

Rudolf Elmer, former employee of Swiss bank Julius Baer, appeals his conviction of violating confidentiality. Elmer turned over private documents he says show the bank helping wealthy clients avoid taxes. Not surprisingly, Elmer's new best pal is

Assange and Elmer (EuroNews)
Assange and Elmer (EuroNews)
Catherine Cossy

ZURICH - His supporters see him as a David standing up to the Goliath of the Swiss banking industry, a whistleblower who was snubbed by local media and forced instead to turn to WikiLeaks.

The most impassioned of his backers will be on hand this week as the appeal opens for Rudolf Elmer, the former employee of Julius Baer, a private Swiss Bank, convicted of violating banking confidentiality and coercion.

Elmer was found guilty of turning over confidential bank documents in an attempt to show that Julius Baer had a policy of helping wealthy clients avoid taxes. The defendant is hoping to have his sentence reduced to 240 days, and his fine suspended (meaning that it goes on his record but does not have to be paid).

A crowd of left-wing protesters and several foreign journalists have traveled to Zurich to attend the trial. Elmer was fired from by Julius Baer in 2002 after working for the Swiss bank for over 20 years in the Caiman Islands. He photocopied thousands of his ex-employer's documents, which he then tried to pass on to the Swiss media, as proof of the bank's practices in the tax haven.

When the Swiss media collectively passed on the documents, he turned to WikiLeaks as a last resort. Summaries of the documents were posted on Wikileaks in 2008, and Julius Baer promptly filed a complaint against Elmer after having tried, in vain, to block access to the WikiLeaks website.

Although he never tried to hide his identity, Elmer's name was barely mentioned until Jan. 17, 2011, two days before his first trial began. On that day, he appeared with Julian Assange at the Frontline Club in London, and matter-of-factly handed the founder of WikiLeaks a CD said to contain information about 2,000 accounts of clients suspected of tax fraud.

It may have been a spectacular, media operation, but it also got him arrested just two hours after his first trial was over. He spent six months in provisional detention before being released this past summer. Though it is not clear what the ex-banker actually gave Assange, the current appeal relates to the original batch of leaked material.

Read the original article in French (subscription may be required)

photo - EuroNews

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Society

In Denmark, Beloved Christmas TV Special Cancelled For Blackface Scenes

The director of the 1997 episode complained that TV executives are being "too sensitive."

Screenshot of a child wearing apparent blackface as part of a vintage "TV Christmas calendar" episode on Danish TV

Screenshot of the controversial scene in a vintage episode of Denmark's traditional "TV Christmas calendar"

Amélie Reichmut

If there’s one thing Scandinavians take seriously, it’s Christmas. And over the past half-century, in addition to all the family and religious traditions, most Nordic countries share a passion for what's known as the "TV Christmas calendar": 24 nightly television episodes that air between Dec. 1 and Christmas Eve.

Originally, the programs were strictly aimed at children; but over the years, the stories evolved more towards family entertainment, with some Christmas calendars becoming classics that generations of Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and others have watched each year as national and family traditions in their own right.

But this year in Denmark, one vintage episode has been pulled from the air because of a blackface scene.

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