Egypt complains to Switzerland over CIA leak

Swiss military intelligence intercepted the Egyptian fax Keystone

Cairo has lodged a complaint with Bern over the publication of an Egyptian government fax said to confirm the existence of secret CIA prisons in Europe.

This content was published on January 19, 2006 minutes

The Swiss government said on Thursday that its ambassador to Cairo had been summoned to the Egyptian foreign ministry to receive the complaint.

News reports said Egypt had informed Charles-Edouard Held on Sunday that it considered the leaking of an official document to be "unacceptable".

A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman said Held had expressed the Swiss government's regret over the incident, but had not made an apology.

Held told the Egyptian authorities that Bern did not approve of this "indiscretion".

The diplomatic incident was triggered almost two weeks ago by the publication in Switzerland's SonntagsBlick newspaper of a confidential intelligence report on a fax sent by the Egyptian foreign ministry to the country's embassy in London.

The fax was said to have been intercepted by the Swiss intelligence service in November.

According to the intelligence report, the Egyptian fax claimed the Americans were operating a secret prison in Romania to interrogate suspected terrorists. It apparently also confirmed the existence of detention centres in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria.


Switzerland is concerned that the affair could damage its credibility.

Swiss military prosecutors and the federal justice authorities have launched separate investigations into the leak.

The cabinet has strongly criticised the publication of the secret document. The foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, said that although it contained nothing spectacular, the naming of countries was problematic.

"The countries which were named weren't particularly happy," Calmy-Rey told the Matin Dimanche newspaper.

Calmy-Rey denied that Switzerland had been too passive over the CIA prison affair. She said that while there was no proof of the existence of the detention centres, Switzerland had neverthless demanded explanations from the Americans.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

June 2004: Human Rights Watch claims that the United States is detaining alleged terrorists at more than a dozen secret locations around the world.
November 2, 2005: The Washington Post reports that the CIA is detaining members of al-Qaeda in eight eastern European countries and Asia.
November 7: Swiss senator Dick Marty is named by the Council of Europe to head an inquiry into the allegations.
December 14: The Swiss parliament demands a report from the government on alleged CIA transit flights through Switzerland.
January 8, 2006: The SonntagsBlick newspaper leaks the contents of an Egyptian government fax apparently confirming the detention centres.

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