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Commission recommends secret service shake-up

Switzerland's intelligence service should report directly to the defence ministry and be made more professional. Those are the main recommendations published on Thursday, by a commission headed by the former state secretary, Edouard Brunner.

This content was published on February 17, 2000 - 20:31

Switzerland's intelligence service should report directly to the defence ministry and be made more professional. Those are the main recommendations published on Thursday, by a commission headed by the former state secretary, Edouard Brunner.

His report also recommends putting the service under civilian control and appointing an independent inspector to strengthen internal control mechanisms.

The report says Switzerland still needs an intelligence service, but it has to lose its military flavour. It says geopolitical changes over the last ten years mean that terrorism, organised crime, and money laundering are far bigger problems than the military threat.

It also recommends personnel should, as a rule, be freed from military obligations and their army rank should no longer play a role in determining their position within the intelligence service.

The commission wants to see the service taken away from army control by having its head report directly to the defence ministry. But it should retain its access to the army's electronic information gathering systems. The armed forces intelligence service should be restructured and expanded to become a military intelligence service.

The report also proposes setting up a new six-member commission to oversee the service's work and report annually to parliament.

The Brunner Commission was set up six months ago in the wake of the Bellasi affair, which involved an intelligence service bookkeeper allegedly embezzling eight million Swiss francs of defence ministry funds.

From staff and wire reports

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