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Swiss defence ministry uncovers internal leak

Defence minister, Adolf Ogi, has confronted the insider over the leaked documents


The Swiss defence ministry has confirmed reports in the "SonntagsBlick" newspaper that secret documents spelling out plans for the far-reaching Army XXI reform were illegally passed on to the economics minister, Pascal Couchepin.

A spokesman for the defence ministry said on Sunday that several months ago a general staff officer, Urban Siegenthaler, handed over detailed information referring to the army reform of the military to an aide of Couchepin.

The documents contained figures on the strength and composition of the new-style armed forces.

The president, Adolf Ogi, who also holds the portfolio for defence, has already had a lengthy meeting with Siegenthaler following the revelations of an internal leak in the defence ministry. However, Siegenthaler was not dismissed by his employers.

The existence of a security leak explains how Couchepin was able to confront Ogi over the planned army reforms in a series of public statements since April. Couchepin and Ogi remain at odds over the number of recruits to serve under the new army system and over its financing.

While Couchepin wanted to see an army of 120.000, Ogi was in favour of 200,000. At the end of May the government came out in favour of an army of between 100,000 and 120,000 active members and up to 80,000 reservists.

This blueprint will have to be ratified by parliament by June 2001.

swissinfo with agencies

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