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espionage Switzerland is a favourite hub for foreign spies, reports paper

Geneva fountain with tourists and shadowy figure

Geneva is said to be a favourite spot for spies who can blend in with the tourists.

(Keystone)

Switzerland is an increasingly favoured meeting place for foreign secret service agents, reports the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. However, Swiss intelligence is keen to clamp down on the encounters. 

The paper writes that the resurgence of Switzerland as a hub for spy meetings is due to the country’s central geographical location, good infrastructure and low level of police surveillance. 

+ How the Cold War was also a time of intense espionage in Switzerland 

The paper quotes sources as saying that the number of meetings in Switzerland between spies from foreign countries has “exploded” in recent years because of rising demand for secret information. The sources did not wish to be named. 

During such meetings, foreign secret service agents confer new foreign missions to spies, deliver payments, and gather information, the paper adds. 

“They look just like you or I, only less noticeable,” writes the NZZ. “They meet in Zurich hotel lobbies, Bern diplomatic apartments and Geneva conference rooms. And they live with false identities, so-called codenames.” 

It says Geneva is a favourite place because of the large number of international organizations. 

Swiss intelligence services are aware of the meetings, and have put in place measures to “uncover, prevent or at least disturb” such encounters, spokeswoman Isabelle Graber told the paper. To do this, it works closely with relevant foreign states. 

+ Read more about the Federal Intelligence Services in Switzerland 

“It is not in Switzerland’s interest to have sources meeting on its territory that go against the interests of a friendly country,” says Graber. “In return, we expect that friendly countries also work the same way to stop spy activity on their territory that is against Switzerland’s interests. 

In 2016, Swiss voters also approved a new lawexternal link to give the intelligence services more tools to tap private phone lines and monitor cyberspace activities.

swissinfo.ch/jc

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