Court Convicts Swiss Woman For Reading Husband’s Emails

A wife in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland has been convicted of digital intrusion after she read her husband’s emails which showed he was having affairs with several different women.

Swiss website, Aargauer Zeitung reports that woman became suspicious after her husband set up a second email account on their home computer.

The report says the couple had always known each other’s passwords and had even written them down.  According to the paper, since the man used one of these passwords for his new account, his wife was easily able to access it and read his emails.

The emails revealed that her husband had been having affairs with several other women for some time.

Displeased with the development, the woman downloaded attachments from her husband’s account and saved them to an external drive then confronted her husband, who moved out of their apartment and later filed a criminal complaint against his wife for reading his emails.

The Muri-Bremgarten public prosecutor issued the woman with a suspended financial penalty of 9,900 francs plus a 4,300 franc fine In February 2017 for her unauthorized intrusion into her husband’s data, saying she deliberately and repeatedly invaded his email account and downloaded material that was not her own.

The woman’s attorney has however demanded acquittal for his client in an appeal to the district court in Bremgarten, saying she didn’t hack into her husband’s email since she knew his password.

Swedish website, TheLocal reports that her search history showed that, prior to reading her husband’s emails, the defendant googled whether doing so would make her liable for prosecution. This showed she knew she was entering a grey area, said the court, even though the internet did not give her a definitive answer on the subject.

TheLocal reports that the court upheld the conviction, saying unauthorized intrusion into someone else’s email account is illegal, however it greatly reduced the penalty, acknowledging the woman had only shown “minimal criminal energy” since all she had to do to access the email account was to “exploit her husband’s carelessness” in using the password they both knew.

Speaking to 20 Minutes, Zurich attorney, Martin Bürgi said it makes no difference whether the people involved are married, living together or don’t know each other at all, someone must still have permission to read another person’s messages.

“Reading data protected by a password or code without the account owner’s permission is illegal under article 143 of the Swiss criminal code“, Bürgi said.

The code states that such an act is punishable by a fine or up to three years in prison.(www.thelocal.ch)

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