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Spying affair Security tightened at Swiss chemicals lab

A scientist in Spiez

At work in the government-run Spiez Laboratory near Bern

(Keystone)

The defence ministry has confirmed that security measures have been increased at the government-run Spiez Laboratory near Bern. 

The facilityexternal link analyses chemical and biological weapons, including the nerve agent Novichok, which Britain says Russia used to try to murder a former spy in March, and suspected poison gas deployed in Syria. 

Although the laboratory was previously secure and fulfilled the requirements for at-risk targets, protection had been increased, defence ministry spokesman Renato Kalbermatten told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Friday. 

In March 2017, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland opened an investigation against two alleged Russian spies suspected of having carried out a cyberattack against the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), whose European headquarters is in Lausanne. 

In spring 2018, the same two Russian spies were reportedly on their way to the Spiez laboratory when they were detained in the Netherlands and sent back to Russia. Russia has dismissed the allegations. 

“After what happened [earlier in the year], additional measures have been taken to consolidate the level of security,” Kalbermatten said. Protection of the IT systems had been strengthened and structural and surveillance measures had been implemented concerning visitor access, he explained.

Geneva talks Russian spying has ‘calmed down’, says Swiss foreign minister

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva on Wednesday for a working lunch.

Keystone-SDA/ts

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