The NZZ newspaper has reported that Chinese intelligence services are systematically trying to extract information from Swiss researchers and decision-makers by initiating contact via LinkedIn. Swiss intelligence has confirmed it is aware of the threat.
The articleexternal link (in German) claims that profiles with anodyne names such as Lily Hu or Rachel Li contact university staff or researchers in Switzerland and Europe, then encourage them to transfer know-how to China.
The requests for information can be accompanied by offers of several thousands of francs, the newspaper says. Researchers and officials would be invited to congresses and conferences in China free of charge.
“The federal intelligence service is aware of attempts by Chinese intelligence agencies to recruit informants through platforms such as LinkedIn,” news service spokeswoman Isabelle Graber told the NZZ.
“These can be parliamentarians, civil servants and army personnel, but also bank employees, academics, and research institute staff.” She called for caution from individuals who may find themselves approached in such a way.
The news follows allegationsexternal link by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution last December, claiming over 10,000 recruitment attempts by Chinese secret services took place in 2017.
For their part, the Chinese secret services denied having anything to do with such fake profiles. The allegations are unfounded, they said at the time.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/dos