A Swiss court has ruled as lawful the 2017 dismissal of a Russia expert by the Federal Office of Police, following a personal visit by the agent to Moscow that was paid in part by Russia.
The Federal Administrative Court in St Gallen made its decision on Monday, judging that the February 2017 firing of the unnamed specialist was valid on the grounds that he had gone against the orders of his superior.
According to the decision, the man travelled to Moscow in December 2016 having been contacted by Russian authorities regarding an unspecified investigation.
Going against the orders of his supervisor at the Federal Office of Police, he used a diplomatic passport even though he made the journey as a private individual. The cost of his luxury hotel was taken up by the Russians, while the rest of the expenses were to be covered himself.
In February last year the man was then dismissed from his role and an investigation opened against him by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. He is suspected of abuse of office, violation of official secrecy, and corruption.
Further details of the trip remain unconfirmed, but several Swiss national newspapers commented on the case on Monday. The Tages-Anzeiger and Tribune de Genève both wrote that the man met Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was closely linked in the past to the so-called Magnitsky case.
This case, which led to US President Barack Obama’s Magnitsky Act in 2012, involved the 2009 death in a Russian jail of whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky, who revealed widespread money-laundering that implicated several Swiss banks.
More recently, Veselnitskaya was reported by the New York Times in July 2017 to have held a meeting in Trump Tower in the lead up to the 2016 US presidential election with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort.