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Swiss Cops Nab World Forum Hacker

February 23, 2001

GENEVA (AP) _ Swiss police arrested a man Friday on suspicion of hacking into the computer systems of the World Economic Forum and stealing private information about participants.

Geneva police said the man was a 20-year-old Swiss citizen and part time computer consultant. He was arrested in the Swiss capital, Bern.

Police said he would be charged with data theft, unauthorized entry into a computer system, damage to property and misuse of credit cards. If found guilty he faces up to five years in prison, or a fine.

No further details would be released, police said. They did not release the name of the suspect.

It was not clear whether the man had been working alone or whether he had been part of a team. A shadowy group of anti-globalization hackers calling themselves ``Virtual Monkeywrench″ had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The hackers obtained personal information about government and business leaders who have attended the summit in the Swiss ski resort of Davos in recent years.

They passed a CD-ROM containing stolen data from the Forum’s systems to the weekly SonntagsZeitung, which published details on Feb. 4. The newspaper reported that it included the numbers of credit cards, passports and personal cellular phones belonging to political and business leaders including former President Clinton, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The newspaper said the hackers obtained information about 27,000 leading politicians, chief executives of major corporations, and top managers who have taken part in the forum.

The World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based foundation that organizes the Davos summits, made a complaint to the justice authorities in early February.

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