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Ex-banker held for giving data to WikiLeaks

world Updated: Jan 21, 2011 01:17 IST

A former Swiss banker has been arrested for passing apparently leaked account details to WikiLeaks, hours after he was found guilty of breaching Switzerland's bank secrecy laws in another case.

The Zurich state police and state prosecutor said they were investigating whether Rudolf Elmer had broken Swiss banking law when he handed a CD of hundreds of offshore bank account holders to WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange at a press conference on Monday.

In a joint statement, they said: "The state prosecutor's office is checking to see whether Rudolf Elmer has violated Swiss banking law by handing the CD over to WikiLeaks."

Just hours before being taken into custody, Elmer had been found guilty of breaching banking laws for publicising private client data and for threatening an employee at his former firm Julius Baer.

He was fined 7,200 Swiss francs (£4,714), suspended for two years. A written judgment will follow. Following the verdict, Kurt Langhard, a lawyer for Julius Baer, said: "We are satisfied."

The court ruling did not concern WikiLeaks and the defence will decide whether to appeal within 10 days.

Elmer, who helped bring WikiLeaks to prominence three years ago when he used it to publish secret client details, had admitted sending Julius Baer data to tax authorities.