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Tougher screening Swiss identify 22 people as national security risks

Security checks were made on 1.3 million air passengers last year

(Keystone)

Last year the Federal Intelligence Service identified 22 people as threats to national security, mostly via their alleged links to Islamic terrorism, out of 2.1 million people screened, a Swiss newspaper reports. The number of security checks has risen steeply. 

According to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, the Federal Intelligence Service carried out background checks on 2.1 million people in 2015 – 1.3 million air passengers, 730,000 who had filed visa requests, 50,000 who had filed naturalization requests, 4,900 asylum seekers and 6,600 other foreigners. 

The checks revealed 22 people who were considered a threat to national security. 

“The vast majority of the cases are linked to Islamic terrorism,” the Federal Intelligence Service spokesperson Carolina Bohren told NZZ am Sonntag. 

Nine of the suspects were asylum seekers who had travelled to Switzerland, four had applied for visas, five were interested in traveling to Switzerland to obtain a residence permit, and two had applied for Swiss citizenship. 

The intelligence service asked all relevant authorities to block all attempts to gain entry to Switzerland as well as visa or asylum requests, the NZZ reported. No further details were given regarding the suspects’ identities, nor information on the follow-up of individual cases. 

In 2015, the intelligence service screened almost six times more people than in 2011 – 350,000. The increase is mainly related to more checks on air passengers. The data was recently published in the cabinet’s annual report.  

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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