Archive | Switzerland

Swiss Neutrality Tarnished by Spy Scandal, Critics Warn

By Agence France-Presse 

GENEVA: Outraged commentators warned Wednesday that revelations the CIA and Germany’s intelligence service had for decades used a Swiss encryption company for spying had seriously damaged Switzerland’s cherished reputation for neutrality.

Critics voiced particular concern that Bern may have been at least tacitly complicit in the secret operation.

Switzerland, which takes pride in its neutral and non-aligned status, “was hosting a quasi ally intelligence agency,” the Tribune de Geneve daily said in an editorial.

Swiss officials “very likely” knew what was going on but “closed their eyes” in the name of neutrality, it added.

Home to the United Nations European headquarters and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Switzerland is recognized worldwide for its standing as an honest broker.

But media revelations Tuesday told how for decades the US and West German intelligence services raked in the top-secret communications of governments around the world.

The Trojan horse they used was their hidden control of Swiss encryption company Crypto AG.

The company supplied devices for encoded communications to some 120 countries from after World War II to the beginning of this century, including Iran, South American governments, and India and Pakistan.

Unknown to those governments, Crypto was secretly acquired in 1970 by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency together with the then West Germany’s BND Federal Intelligence Service.

Vital intelligence over decades
Together they rigged Crypto’s equipment to be able to easily break the codes and read the government’s messages, according to reports by the Washington Post, German television ZTE and Swiss state media SRF.

Citing a classified internal CIA history of what was originally called operation “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon,” the reports said that in the 1980s the harvest from the Crypto machines supplied roughly 40 percent of all the foreign communications U.S. code-breakers processed for intelligence.

The spy agencies were thus able to gather precious information during major crises such as the hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and Britain.

They also got information on several political assassinations in Latin America.

The Swiss government said Tuesday it had named a retired federal judge to look into the matter, with his findings due out in June.

But Carolina Bohren, a Swiss defense ministry spokeswoman, stressed the difficulties ahead. “The events in question began in 1945 and are difficult to reconstruct and interpret today,” she said.

Bern also announced it had suspended export licenses for Crypto’s successor companies, until the situation has been “clarified”.

But a number of political parties, insisting that far more needed to be done, on Wednesday called for a full-blown investigation.

‘Getting out of this mess’
The Swiss Socialist Party wondered in a tweet whether the country’s own intelligence service was a “victim or an accomplice”, demanding “clarifications and a full investigation”.

The Greens and Christian Democrats also suggested a parliamentary commission might be called for.

Amnesty International’s Swiss chapter meanwhile raised questions about the Swiss authorities’ responsibility both for the espionage and for how the information gathered had been used.

“Were our intelligence services and the government aware of the torture and the murders committed by military dictatorships in Chile and Argentina?” it asked in a tweet.

“Did they take any measures? A full investigation must be carried out.”

Switzerland has a centuries-old tradition of neutrality. It avoided being drawn into either of the World Wars and has stayed outside political and military alliances such as NATO.

Several media reports noted Wednesday that this reputation ended up providing excellent cover for the United States and Germany when they set up their spying operation there.

Whether this was done “out of incompetence, because of a desire to cover for foreign secret service agents, or to profit from the information they uncovered, must now be clarified,” the Tages-Anzeiger daily insisted.

“That is the only way to get out of this mess.”

Posted in USA, Europe, Germany, SwitzerlandComments Off on Swiss Neutrality Tarnished by Spy Scandal, Critics Warn

Hamas condemns Swiss minister’s comment about right to return

NOVANEWS

Ignazio Cassis, the Foreign Minister of Switzerland [screengrab / Youtube]
MEMO 

The Islamic Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, has condemned a comment by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis about the Palestinians’ right to return. The movement said that it was “shocked” to hear Cassis describe the legitimate return of all Palestinian refugees as an “unrealistic dream” in a comment about the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

According to the minister, “UNRWA poses a problem by holding an unrealistic dream about the return of all refugees.” The question, he said, is whether UNRWA is part of the solution or the problem. “It has long worked as a solution but now it is part of the problem, it is securing the ammunition needed for the continuation of the conflict. As long as Palestinians live in refugee camps, they will remain wanting to return to their homeland.”

Hamas denounced what it called the Swiss minister’s “disgraceful remarks” and demanded that the government of Switzerland should issue an apology to the people of Palestine.

“We reiterate our support for UNRWA and the need to enable it to continue its work mandated by the international community for the relief and employment of Palestinian refugees,” the movement said. “We affirm to all that the adherence of our people to their rights, foremost of which is the return to their land, is not linked to the existence of the camps or the continuation of the Agency’s work.”

The right to return to their homeland, Hamas pointed out, is one to be upheld for all refugees, regardless of where they are or their country of origin. Palestinian refugees are no different, it insisted, and their right to return has been reaffirmed in numerous UN Resolutions over the decades since the 1948 ethnic cleansing of their land. “Furthermore,” added Hamas, “it is an individual and collective right.”



Posted in Palestine Affairs, Gaza, SwitzerlandComments Off on Hamas condemns Swiss minister’s comment about right to return

Why Is Switzerland Drone Testing In Occupied Golan Heights?

NOVANEWS

 Image result for israel switzerland relations

HAARETZ – Switzerland’s defense ministry has admitted sending staff to test reconnaissance drones in contested land held by Israel – an embarrassing blow for the neutral European country’s status as an honest broker in the Middle East.
Swiss officials visited an airfield in the Golan Heights region on three occasions in 2012, 2013 and 2015 to monitor tests of the Israeli-built Hermes 900 aircraft that they are buying for $265 million.

The visits, which lasted several days, took place in an area which Switzerland does not recognize as being part of Israel, which took the land from Syria following a 1967 war.

Following an internal review this year, the Swiss found the presence of their personnel at the airfield contradicted the Swiss position on the Middle East conflict, the ministry said.

The visits took place without the knowledge of the Swiss foreign ministry. No further visits have taken place since the affair came to light, it said in a statement.

“This incident was a communication breakdown,” it said. “Those who were informed about the activities did not realize Swiss officials were not allowed to be there and those who knew about the restrictions were not informed about the planned activities.”

Future tests will now take place at an airfield within Israel, it added, with the drones due to enter service in 2020.

Switzerland has frequently acted as a broker in the Middle East, most recently hosting peace talks about the Syrian civil war in Geneva and carrying out consular services for Iran and Saudi Arabia in their respective countries.

“This case damages the credibility of Switzerland with regards to all governments in the region which are in conflict with Israel,” veteran diplomat Tim Guldimann, a lawmaker from the Social Democrat party, told the Tages-Anzeiger paper. 

Elbit describes the Hermes 900 as “highly autonomous, enabling automatic takeoff and landing and includes advanced avionics and electronic systems.” It has a flight altitude of 30,000 ft. and a large payload capacity.

Brazil’s Air Force purchased two $12 million drones from Elbit to provide crowd surveillance above Brazil’s soccer stadiums during the 2014 World Cup.

“The intelligence-gathering electronic and optics technologies of Elbit and our Brazilian partners are perfectly suited for the homeland security challenges at these events,” said Elbit CEO Bezhalel Machlis.



Posted in Europe, ZIO-NAZI, SwitzerlandComments Off on Why Is Switzerland Drone Testing In Occupied Golan Heights?


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