On our own account

On 11 October 2023, the weekly Weltwoche reported that the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service, the NDB, had recorded our newspaper Zeit-Fragen/Current Concerns/Horizons et débats in a memorandum classified as ‘confidential’. Weltwoche, published in Zurich, rightly refers to a ‘fiche’, the Swiss term for a secret file. We have a copy of this document, dated 29 September 2023. In it, the authorities claim that Zeit-Fragen is spreading Russian ‘disinformation’ and ‘propaganda’. There is no mention of evidence or facts in support of these claims.
  The ‘hook’ or occasion for this assertion is an article by Scott Ritter, the noted American commentator, that first appeared in the US at the beginning of September 2023 and was subsequently translated and published by both Weltwoche and Zeit–Fragen and its translated editions. Ritter’s topic is Swiss neutrality. He emphasises its value and its importance for peace in the world. He is critical of the attempt by the US ambassador to Bern, Scott Miller, to interfere in Switzerland’s internal affairs by exerting intense and concentrated pressure in a diplomatically unacceptable manner.
  Scott Ritter was an officer in the US Marines and subsequently a UN weapons inspector. Since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, which was against international law, he has been an internationally known critic of US foreign policy – not least out of genuine attachment to his country.
  Ritter wrote the article after he had been to Switzerland to deliver lectures at a conference sponsored by “Mut zur Ethik” and, while there, had spoken to numerous Swiss citizens about the country’s neutrality. He was outraged by America’s attacks on the principle of neutrality. His travel costs and expenses, it bears mentioning in the interest of clarity and transparency, were covered by the Swiss citizens who invited him to speak – not, as was wildly imagined in certain circles, by Russia.
  We state in this regard:

  • The creation of secret files by the NDB is a blatant violation of the freedom of opinion and freedom of the media as guaranteed under human rights law and in Articles 16 and 17 of the Swiss Federal Constitution.
  • For years, about 90 per cent of Swiss citizens have repeatedly spoken out in favour of Swiss neutrality. Originating from the long history of the Swiss Confederation, our neutrality is part of the political core of our federal state, but is currently under massive attack from certain circles. The NDB is obviously making itself a stooge of these circles with its creation of secret files on Zeit-Fragen
  • Where are we today if the commitment to our neutrality is dismissed by our own intelligence service as Russian disinformation and propaganda? This is a political and constitutional scandal – unworthy of a democracy and an indictment of certain authorities in our country.
  • The origin of the pressure is an open secret and has become common knowledge. It does not come from Russia.
  • Zeit-Fragen/Current Concerns/Horizons et débats represents a journalistic ethic according to which it is not sufficient that only one opinion should have its say in a society: Different points of view and assessments must have a place. Without pluralism in the media landscape and freedom of the press, free public discussion and debate is not possible. We have deliberately organised ourselves as a cooperative, and all members work on a voluntary basis, because, as writers and editors, we value our independence – financially, yes, but also to protect our freedom to express our opinions. We do not allow ourselves to be roped in by anyone.

The editors.

Swiss Confederation

Art. 16. Freedom of expression and of information

  1. Freedom of expression and of information is guaranteed.
  2. Every person has the right freely to form, express, and impart their opinions.
  3. Every person has the right reely to receive information, to gather it from generally accessible sources and to disseminate it.

Art. 17. Freedom of the media

  1. Freedom of the press, radio and television and of other forms of dissemination of features and information by means of public telecommunications is guaranteed.
  2. Censorship is prohibited.
  3. The protection of sources is guaranteed.

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