More spies visiting Switzerland as diplomats

How many spies are moonlighting as diplomats in Bern, the Swiss capital? © KEYSTONE / ANTHONY ANEX

The Swiss Federal Council has reported an increase in foreign espionage, particularly aided by technology and by spies posing as diplomats. 

This content was published on March 10, 2018 - 12:02

“Of course it worries us,” Defence Minister Guy Parmelin told Swiss public radio, SRF, in an interview aired on Saturday’s Heute MorgenExternal link show. 

According to the Federal Council’s annual reportExternal link, the number of foreign intelligence officers under diplomatic cover is significant. For example, the Swiss government seriously suspects that among diplomatic staff from one country, at least a quarter have links to their national intelligence service. 

The report, published on Wednesday, does not state which country it is, and Parmelin declined to specify when asked by SRF radio. 

+ How does the Swiss intelligence service work? 

Several nations deploy “travelling” intelligence officers, according to the government report. These people visit Switzerland for one-off missions. Often, the target country for these operations is not actually Switzerland, but another European state. 

Parmelin also told SRF that the Swiss intelligence service was working to combat increasing levels of cyber espionage targeting Swiss interests. He did not give concrete examples of countermeasures, but he noted that Switzerland’s recently updated intelligence law gives the authorities more options.

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