Swiss Banker Gave WikiLeaks Information Revealing Crimes by World's Most Powerful People, as Attacks on Assange and the Site Continue
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The mountain of damning information acquired by WikiLeaks just keeps growing, this time thanks to former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who has reportedly fed the whistle-blower site information that could uncover "massive, unmitigated tax evasion " by powerful individuals and corporations around the globe.
Elmer handed over two optical discs worth of data, said to contain Swiss bank accounts linked to thousands of individuals, including some 40 politicians and "pillars of society" from the U.S., Asia and Europe. Speaking at a press conference outside the Frontline Club, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is under house arrest, Elmer called WikiLeaks "my only hope to get society to know what's going on" and said "it is damaging our society in the way that money is moved."
After leaving a Cayman Islands outpost of the Swiss bank Julius Baer in 2004, Elmer alleged that many of the bank's top clients engaged in tax fraud with the full cooperation of Julius Baer leaders, according to Raw Story. Elmer, who went on to found the Swiss Whistleblower website, has fed significant information to WikiLeaks once before, in 2007. He faced a court hearing over that release just last Tuesday.
Assange said he plans to release the information in "a matter of weeks," as soon as it's been verified.
The news comes as Assange faces allegations of sexual misconduct and attempts to extradite him from the UK to Sweden. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is continuing its efforts to smear Assange and punish everyone involved with his website. Most notably, Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. soldier behind a massive leak of classified government documents, is being tortured by being kept in solitary confinement in a Virginia prison.
Assange himself has received numerous thinly-veiled (and not so thinly-veiled) death threats from people all over the world, including individuals associated with the governments of the U.S. and other countries. A website called "People OK With Murdering Assange" compiles the most egregious statements from individuals -- including politicians and prominent media personalities -- who have called for him to be killed.
The Feds have convinced a number of major companies, including PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Amazon, to stop doing business with Assange's site.
Even the newly crowned Miss America got some jabs in at WikiLeaks' expense, saying during the question portion of Saturday's pageant, "You know when it came to that situation, it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation, we have to focus on security first and then people's right to know. It's important that everybody who's in our borders is safe and so we can't let things like that happen, and they must be handled properly." That answer may have won Teresa Scanlan the crown, but it is of course inaccurate, since no one has ever been successfully prosecuted under the Espionage Act.
Lauren Kelley is an associate editor at AlterNet and a freelance writer and editor who has contributed to Change.org, The L Magazine and Time Out New York. She lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter here.