Federal office raided in nuclear file showdown

A fight over explosive documents in a nuclear-smuggling case escalated on Thursday when investigators raided a federal building and seized a safe and key.

This content was published on July 9, 2009 - 21:12

Lawyers, parliamentarians and the federal government are all locked in a showdown over what should happen to documents related to the Tinner affair, particularly those that contain plans for a nuclear bomb.

Urs, Marco and Friedrich Tinner, engineers with ties to a centrifuge business, have been the subject of allegations that they contributed to a nuclear smuggling ring run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme. The Tinners have maintained their innocence.

At the centre of the investigation is a dossier that contains roughly 100 pages of documents so sensitive that the government wants them destroyed. The original files were indeed shredded secretly in November 2007 but copies surfaced last December.

Investigators say the dossier with the copied files is crucial to the smuggling case and have demanded it be handed over in full. So far the government has refused, saying the documents are a matter of national security and that the ministers' decision to destroy them leaves no legal room for an appeal.

On Thursday, however, the Federal Criminal Court opened the door for the documents to be seized by force.

In a move that is now certain to push the matter into court, investigators and Bern cantonal police stormed into federal security offices in Bern and seized a safe containing a key to a filing cabinet that holds the disputed documents. The files themselves were not taken.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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