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Cold War unit Secret army documents cannot be found, says defence ministry

underground bunker used by P26

The secret army unit, which used underground bunkers like this one, was created without parliamentary approval.

(Keystone)

The Swiss defence ministry says it has not found missing documents related to a covert Cold War-era army unit, and is closing its search for them. 

“We have transmitted all the documents to the federal archives,” defence ministry spokesman Renato Kalbermatten told Swiss broadcaster SRF on Saturday. 

The secret army unit, called “Projekt 26” or P-26, had roots in the 1950s when the Swiss military began assembling a guerrilla-style force to resist a Communist invasion. P-26 was disbanded in 1990 after revelations of its existence prompted a public scandal.  

The Control Delegationexternal link, which oversees the management of state intelligence and security matters, expressed concern in its annual report that the defence ministry could not find 27 unpublished folders and dossiers from an investigation into P-26 three decades ago, known as the “Cornu” report.

Critics fear the documents were destroyed or intentionally misplaced to hide embarrassing details about neutral Switzerland’s surreptitious advances toward NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or clandestine ties to foreign spy agencies. 

Control Delegation president Claude Janiak told parliament this spring that the oversight group is determined to find the missing documents. Now that the government has closed its search, the delegation will decide what to do next in May, he told the Swiss news agency SDA-ATS. 

The Federal Council this week published an edited and anonymized version of the Cornu report. The full version has been filed with the federal archives and remains classified until 2041.


SDA-ATS/jc

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