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Secret files affair Snooping scandal leads to police shake-up

In 1989, there was a storm of protest after it was revealed that the Swiss federal authorities had been snooping on the public on a grand scale. (SRF/

A special parliamentary commission (PUK) was set up to investigate claims that the department of justice and the federal police, charged with intelligence gathering, had secretly kept more than 900,000 files on Swiss citizens and foreigners.
Organisations, companies and various political groups, especially left-leaning ones, were also targeted. It emerged that information had been supplied by the head of the Swiss news agency ATS/ASD and heads of industry.
In March 1990, 35,000 people took part in a demonstration in Bern, calling for the abolition of the secret police, the release of the documents into public hands and the setting up of a second parliamentary commission. It was one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in the federal capital.
Most of the protestors were peaceful, but some tried to ransack the federal prosecutor’s office, broke windows and set light to cars.

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