• Switzerland's news in English
 

Bern seeks US response over alleged bank spying

AFP · 11 Jun 2013, 15:58

Published: 11 Jun 2013 15:58 GMT+02:00

The Swiss foreign ministry told AFP that it was aware of media reports about the issue and that it had sent the US embassy in the capital Berne a diplomatic note seeking "clarification".

The ministry also confirmed that Snowden was accredited as a diplomatic attache at the US permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva from March 2007 to February 2009.
   
"The role of members of permanent missions in Geneva is to represent their 
country at international organisations based in Switzerland," the ministry said.
   
"In line with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, Switzerland 
expects members of diplomatic missions in Berne and permanent missions in Geneva to respect the laws and rules of the country," it added.
   
Snowden, a 29-year-old technology expert and US government contractor, has 
turned whistleblower to reveal Washington's so-called PRISM programme.
   
The programme enables the National Security Agency to issue directives to 
Internet firms such as Google or Facebook to gain access to emails, online chats, pictures, files and videos uploaded by foreign users.
   
Snowden has said that it was in Geneva — where his diplomatic role was a 
cover for his work for the US intelligence agency, the CIA — that he first considered going public.
   
"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my 
government functions and what its impact is in the world," he told the British newspaper The Guardian.
   
"I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than 
good," he added.
   
Snowden claimed there was an operation in which an agent made friends with 
a banker, got him drunk so he was stopped for driving while intoxicated, and then helped him escape legal action.
   
In exchange, the man allegedly spied on Swiss banks to garner data for US 
tax authorities on money stashed abroad by Americans.
   
Speculation is raging in Switzerland's media over the banker's identity, 
amid a debate over a take-it-or-leave-it deal proposed by Washington to fine Swiss banks that allegedly abetted such tax evasion.
   
Discharged from the army after an accident in 2003 just before he could 
deploy to Iraq, Snowden worked at the National Security Agency for various outside contractors, including Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Blatter 'will attend Fifa appeal hearing': lawyer
Blatter's hearing is scheduled 24 hours after that of fallen Uefa president Michel Platini. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Blatter 'will attend Fifa appeal hearing': lawyer
14 hours ago

Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter will attend his February 16th appeal hearing against an eight-year ban from football, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

UN panel calls for Assange to be freed
Photo: David G. Silvers

UN panel calls for Assange to be freed
1 day ago

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by both Sweden and Britain, says a Geneva-based UN panel, which called on both countries to release him and pay him compensation.

Lausanne cathedral packed for top chef's funeral
Photo: Laurent Gillieron/Pool/AFP

Lausanne cathedral packed for top chef's funeral
1 day ago

More than 1,500 people filled Lausanne's cathedral on Friday for the funeral of Benoît Violier, the top French-Swiss chef who died in an apparent suicide.

Julius Bär bank to pay US $547 million over tax fraud
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Julius Bär bank to pay US $547 million over tax fraud
1 day ago

Swiss private bank Julius Bär says it has finalized an agreement with US authorities, paying $547 million to end a criminal investigation into claims that it helped rich Americans dodge taxes.

Skier dies after missing turn at Toggenburg
Skiers at Toggenburg. Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Skier dies after missing turn at Toggenburg
1 day ago

A 47-year-old man has died after failing to negotiate a turn while skiing at Toggenburg in eastern Switzerland.

New rail tunnel proposed under an Alpine pass
Rendition showing crosscut view of proposed tunnel. Photo: Canton of Valais

New rail tunnel proposed under an Alpine pass
1 day ago

Yet another Alpine railway tunnel is in the works for Switzerland — but this one would also carry electrical transmission lines.

UN tells France to enforce smacking ban
Photo: AFP

UN tells France to enforce smacking ban
1 day ago

France, which has come under fire for not fully banning smacking, must "explicitly prohibit" all forms of corporal punishment of children, says a UN report that criticized its treatment of Roma and asylum-seeking minors.

Swiss real estate 'bubble risk' continues to rise
Map shows areas most exposed to high property prices. Image: UBS

Swiss real estate 'bubble risk' continues to rise
2 days ago

The risk of a real estate bubble in Switzerland has reached its highest level since the late 1980s, according to a UBS report.

Italian man dies in Alpine resort chalet fire
View of Villars, where the fire broke out. Photo: Office du Tourisme Villars

Italian man dies in Alpine resort chalet fire
2 days ago

UPDATED: An Italian man died after being trapped in a fire on Wednesday that ripped through an apartment building in Villars-sur Ollon, a mountain ski resort town in the canton of Vaud.

Geneva school cleared after bomb threat
A building at the Geneva International School. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Geneva school cleared after bomb threat
2 days ago

Police are investigating a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of around 2,000 students from a campus of the Geneva International School on Thursday.

Sponsored Article
US taxes and FATCA: 'The time for hiding is over'
National
'World's best chef' commits suicide in village near Lausanne
Features
Zurich celebrates centennial of quirky Dada artistic movement
Education
Children in village school told to speak German or pay 'penalty'
Features
Swiss provide multiple resources to support 'sexy' startup trend
National
Swiss citizens to vote this summer on guaranteed income for all
Culture
Geneva authorities back art museum expansion with Jean Nouvel design
National
Luxury hotel conversion in Vevey runs into financial trouble
National
World Economic Forum: Davos soldiers test positive for cocaine use
Switzerland had secret 'peace deal' with PLO to prevent attacks
Technology
VIDEO: Drone takes you to the heart of a Swiss glacier
Business & Money
Leonardo DiCaprio in Davos slams 'greed' of fossil-fuel industry
National
Miniature scale model of city of Geneva goes on public display
International
Politician and ex-head of Swiss Post among dead in Burkina Faso attack
National
Revealed: Swiss authorities strip refugees of cash and valuables
National
Spectacular video of avalanche near Zermatt illustrates dangers
Business & Money
GE announces plans to slash 1,300 Swiss jobs at Alstom plants
Sport
Fifa museum set to open in Zurich next month as scandal continues
National
Is climate change ruining skiing at resorts in the Swiss Alps?
Culture
Bowie's discreet two decades in Switzerland remembered
National
Switzerland's unemployment rate surges to highest level in five years
National
'Excellent' Swiss wine touted for 2015 vintages despite lower production
National
Medieval Swiss lakeside town plans 'spectacular' festival of lights
Technology
Zurich and Lausanne institutes of technology launch 43 startups
4,435
jobs available