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Switzerland is main hub for Russian spies, says Swiss intelligence service

Switzerland is main hub for Russian spies, says Swiss intelligence service

The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) says Switzerland is the main coordinating center for Russian intelligence operations, as per Swiss Info. 

According to the FIS, at least one-third of the Russian diplomatic employees in Switzerland, which is over 70 individuals, are working for Russian special services. The agency’s spokesperson, Sonya Margelist, has also confirmed that “the greatest current threat from espionage comes from Russian intelligence services.” 

Swiss Info notes that the recent scandal around leaked audio from a conference call between high-ranking German military officers has become the most substantial evidence that Russia has once again intensified its intelligence activities in Europe.

While many European countries expelled a large number of Russian spy diplomats, Switzerland refrained from taking such a step. At the same time, the country’s intelligence agency says countering Russian espionage remains one of the main priorities for Swiss security services.

Apart from cyber espionage, a substantial amount of leaked information is being gathered mainly through employees of Russian diplomatic representations.

The number of officially accredited Russian diplomats in Switzerland has remained consistent since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine. According to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, there are currently 218 accredited Russian diplomats in Switzerland. However, the report by the country’s Federal Intelligence Service said over 70 individuals, constituting at least one-third of the Russian diplomatic personnel in Switzerland, are believed to be working for Russian special services.

Peter Regli, the former head of Swiss intelligence, says this represents only the tip of the iceberg, as it is widely known that the majority of Russian diplomats are employed by intelligence services.

“The Federal Council (the Swiss government) could do much more to counter Russian espionage activities on Swiss soil. However, the government prefers to adhere to the outdated concept of neutrality.”

In the meantime, those who uphold neutrality today are siding with the aggressor,” he emphasized.

Earlier, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service determined that approximately one-fifth of all Russian intelligence officers deployed in Europe are currently operating within Switzerland.

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