Russian spying activity in Switzerland is continuing at a high level, while economic espionage by China is also a leading concern, says the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS).
In its annual report, “Security Switzerland 2019external link”, FIS also points to the terrorist threat and the rise of the far right as dangers to Swiss security.
Nearly a third of accredited Russian diplomats in Switzerland are either known to be or suspected to be members of the Russian intelligence services, it says, and that’s without counting temporary visitors. Switzerland is said to be one of the European hubs for Russian spying.
Beijing is also fingered, particularly when it comes to economic espionage. Conclusions drawn from recent incidents suggest involvement of several groups of hackers associated with the Chinese intelligence services, the report says.
With regard to terrorism, the threat remains high. Like its European neighbours, Switzerland is also concerned about how to deal with Jihadists released from prison, people radicalised in detention and returning Jihadi “travellers”.
FIS notes a worrying rise in right-wing extremism in Switzerland in the last year. It says several far-right groups now have internet sites accessible to the public and one group in canton Vaud has opened its own premises.
These groups possess considerable quantities of firearms, according to FIS. Their members are trained in firearms use and combat sports. The extreme right continues to operate in secret to prevent its activities being compromised by public pressure. The report says this could lead to frustration and violence. There is also a threat of violence if extremists rally around an issue like a rise in immigration or a terrorist attack.
Extremism on the left could also pose a threat, according to the report, along with the potential for clashes between the far-left and far-right at demonstrations.