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Engineer to be extradited in nuclear probe

A uranium conversion facility in Iran Keystone

A Swiss engineer suspected of helping Libya obtain nuclear-weapons technology is to be extradited from Germany to Switzerland.

This content was published on May 13, 2005 - 17:12

Swiss prosecutors want to establish whether Urs Tinner breached the country’s law on war materials by illegally exporting nuclear bomb-making equipment to the North African nation.

Prosecutors in the German city of Cologne said on Friday that the 40-year-old Swiss would be handed over within the next few days.

Hansjürg Mark Wiedmer, spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, told swissinfo that no charges had been laid against Tinner, saying that the authorities just wanted "to talk to him".

Tinner, who was arrested on treason charges in Hessen in October last year, is suspected of helping to supply gas-centrifuge parts to Libya between 2001 and 2003. Gas centrifuges are needed to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

He is said to have supervised the production of more than 2,000 centrifuge parts at a Malaysian company during this period. Tinner denies the charges.

A German-registered freighter carrying the parts from Malaysia to Libya was intercepted in autumn 2003.

Police report

A Malaysian police report in February last year named Tinner and his father, Friedrich, as having overseen machine work on centrifuge parts at Scomi Precision Engineering (Scope) in Malaysia.

Tinner’s family confirmed last year that Urs Tinner worked for Scope as a technical consultant for three years but said he was unaware of the destination of the machinery parts.

Switzerland announced early last year that two companies and 15 individuals were being investigated for illegally exporting material for use in the nuclear programmes of Iran and Libya.

The investigation was launched after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) handed over a list naming Swiss-based firms and individuals who allegedly supplied parts to Iran and Libya.

Friedrich Tinner was one of the individuals named by the IAEA. He has previously been investigated and cleared by the Swiss authorities for trying to ship material to Iraq for possible use in uranium-enrichment centrifuges.

Wiedmer refused to comment on a report due to appear in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday, which claims that Urs Tinner has been working for the CIA and has cut a deal with the Swiss authorities.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

40-year-old Urs Tinner is suspected of helping to supply gas-centrifuge parts for use in Libya’s nuclear-weapons programme between 2001 and 2003.

Tinner is suspected of belonging to an international network supplying nuclear components run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atom bomb.

Khan admitted in February last year that he had passed nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

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