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espionage Government reacts to criticism of ‘utility’ of spy Daniel M.

swiss flag in berlin

The Swiss flag flying in front of Berlin's Reichstag; relations between the neighbours were strained by the espionage case.

(Keystone)

The controversial German mission of Swiss spy Daniel M. was carried out to fulfil a pressing need, the government has said in response to a damning committee report.

In its reaction to a highly critical report by the Parliamentary Control Committee published in March, the Federal Council said that the decision to send Daniel M. to snoop on tax authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia was taken in a different political context, and its outcome was impossible to predict.

Among other criticisms, the committee had said that the information gathered by the spy was of little value; however, the government said on Tuesday, this judgement is made in hindsight.

At the time of dispatching Daniel M – who worked on the case for the Federal Intelligence Servicesexternal link (FIS) from 2011 to 2015 – it was impossible to know if he would find anything of value, it added, noting that political tensions with Germany around banking secrecy were also more pronounced at the time.

+ More on the fallout from the Daniel M. spy case

The 54-year-old Daniel M. was arrested in Germany in April 2017 before being sentenced by a Frankfurt court to a suspended sentence of 22 months and a fine of €40,000 (CHF46,600).

He was accused of having placed a mole within the tax authorities of North Rhine-Westphalia to pinpoint for the FIS the inspectors working on cases of German tax evaders in Switzerland.

He revealed details of his mission but denied successfully planting a ‘fly on the wall’.

Despite justifying the launch of the mission, however, the government said it agreed with – and had already implemented – most of the committee’s recommendations: notably when it comes to screening future sources/spies, as well as ensuring that missions fall within the scope of legality.

SDA-ATS/dos

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