Switzerland hosts a fifth of all Russian spies in Europe
The Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) has determined that there are 80 Russian spies in Switzerland, which is one fifth of all Russian intelligence officers in Europe
This was reported by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
"The Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) has determined that one-fifth of all Russian intelligence officers stationed in Europe are now in Switzerland. This is more than 80 agents, as a high-ranking NDB official told members of the National Council's foreign policy commission in early September," the statement said.
Adrian Hänni, a historian and expert on intelligence services, notes that the country is important for Russian spies because "it is connected to international institutions based in Geneva." Also, according to him, it is in Switzerland that the material and technical base for Russian special services is located.
Politician Gerhard Pfister emphasizes that the danger from Russian spies is growing, as Switzerland does not deport them, unlike other countries.
"We should not be naive. The threat from Russian special services is real. And it tends to grow if Switzerland, unlike other European countries, continues to tolerate these people," he said. Pfister also noted that "Americans or Europeans will at some point ask why Switzerland does not stop the activities of Russian special services."
National Council member Fabian Molina emphasizes that Russian spies sent by Russia under the guise of diplomats are protected by "diplomatic immunity," so they should simply leave the country.
"These foreign agents pose a threat to Switzerland's internal and external security. Since diplomatic immunity protects them from prosecution, we must ensure that they leave the country. If we want to keep international Geneva relatively clean, the federal government must expel foreign agents," Molina says.
Recently, the Foreign Policy Commission approved a proposal that calls for the consistent expulsion of spies, but the country's parliament is not actively adopting such a decision, as Russia could launch the same policy in response.
"If we start throwing Russian embassy staff out of our country, the Swiss embassy in Moscow will be empty in a few days, that's for sure," comments foreign policy expert Roland Rino Büchel.
The Department of Foreign Affairs explained to the outlet that the Federal Council is not currently imposing any sanctions in the form of expulsion of diplomats. Such cases "are not publicly announced and can be counted on one hand." Nevertheless, Switzerland bans the entry of Russian diplomats expelled from other countries - 270 such bans have been issued since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
On September 9, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the number of Russian spies in the United States remains "too high."