Swiss investigate alleged case of Turkish espionage

Swiss media report tensions between Metzler and Calmy-Rey over the matter Keystone Archive

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has said it will investigate whether Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was spied on by the Turkish secret service.

This content was published on October 26, 2003 minutes

Turkish spies allegedly recorded a meeting earlier this year between Calmy-Rey and a representative of a Kurdish organisation banned in Turkey.

According to a report in the German-language newspaper “Tages-Anzeiger”, Turkish authorities informed Ruth Metzler's justice ministry about the meeting, which allegedly took place in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The information was then communicated to the Swiss president and interior minister, Pascal Couchepin.

Calmy-Rey was reportedly told about the incident at a cabinet meeting specially convened by Couchepin on October 3, the “Tages-Anzeiger” wrote this weekend.

Asked to comment on the incident while on a visit to New York, Calmy-Rey said “the Kurds are closely watched by the Turkish secret service.”

No knowledge

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said it had no knowledge of the incident, but added that it would launch an investigation into the matter.

"We will try and clarify the incident as described in the paper," said spokesman Hansjürg Wiedmer.

Jacques Pitteloud, the coordinator of Switzerland’s intelligence services, said he too had not been notified about an operation by Turkey’s secret service on Swiss soil.

The "Tages-Anzeiger" further claimed that the meeting in Lausanne was the "real" reason why Ankara cancelled at short notice a visit by Calmy-Rey to Turkey at the beginning of October.

At the time, the Turkish government argued that it could not accept a decision by a Swiss cantonal parliament to recognise the killings of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The "Tages-Anzeiger" newspaper reported this weekend that the Turkish secret service spied on a meeting in Lausanne between the Swiss foreign minister and a representative of a Kurdish group that is banned in Turkey.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office said on Sunday that it would investigate the alleged incident.

"Tages-Anzeiger" also reported that Ankara claimed the alleged meeting was the "real" reason it cancelled a visit by Calmy-Rey to Turkey planned for the beginning of October.

Ankara said at the time that it was acting in response to a decision by canton Vaud to recognise the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide.

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