Letters to the Editor

The secret files must be irrevocably deleted

A small, reputable Swiss newspaper (Zeit-Fragen / Current Concerns / Horizons et débats), which in contrast to our monotonous mainstream media landscape publishes differentiated and well-researched articles, interviews and reports, is being spied on by the Nachrichtendienst des Bundes (NDB) (Swiss Federal Intelligence Service, FIS) and suspected of being a quasi-Russian infiltrated newspaper, allegedly in order to exert political influence.
  The reason for this grotesque suspicion is an interview with an American former Marine colonel and UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, because he emphasised and supported Swiss neutrality. It becomes superfluous indeed to deny such unfounded and grotesque accusations on an argumentative level.
  In addition to this scandalous violation of freedom of the press, we find it extremely worrying that the FIS quotes support for Swiss neutrality, which would have been of crucial importance in the catastrophic Ukraine conflict, as a reason for spying.
  If the FIS apparently even classifies our armed neutrality, which has actually proven itself many times in the past, as a problem in this serious international conflict, then we must assume that the Federal Council, and in particular the head of the FIS, Mrs Viola Amherd, also no longer considers neutrality to be politically opportune. It may well be that Mrs Amherd wants to curry favour with Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, the former leader of the German CDU parliamentary group, who insinuates that a neutral stance in the Ukraine conflict is reprehensible.
  In doing so, however, Mrs Amherd and the FIS are blatantly violating Swiss constitutional law. In addition, the FIS can be accused of further constitutional violations with this spying, because it wants to suppress the freedom of expression and information in Art. 16 and the freedom of the media in Art. 17, enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution.
  In our opinion, these are serious and blatant violations of existing federal law on the part of the FIS, which we do not simply accept. We still have best memories of the Fichenskandal (Secret files scandal) at the end of the 1980s.* We do not assume that the FIS wants to conjure up another files (Fichen) scandal. We therefore demand the FIS to irrevocably delete these files and draw consequences from these constitutional offences. Otherwise, the public should be informed about such scandals.

Dr med. Daniel Güntert, Wattwil (SG)

* The Fichenaffäre or Secret files scandal shook public opinion in Switzerland in 1989. That year, it was revealed that the Swiss federal authorities, as well as the cantonal police forces, had put in place a system of mass surveillance of the population. Following allegations that within the Federal Department of Justice and Police (EJPD), the Bundespolizei (BUPO, now Swiss Federal Police) charged with domestic intelligence was illegally keeping secret files on both Swiss citizens and foreigners, a special parliamentary commission (PUK EJPD) was established. It gave its report in November 1989, demonstrating that the BUPO had kept more than 900,000 files in secret archives. Files targeted Eastern European nationals, but also Swiss citizens, organizations, firms, and various political groups, mostly on the left. The scandal led to the reorganisation of the BUPO, which since 1992 has been observed by a delegation of a Parliamentary Commission. (Source: Wikipedia)

Free speech no longer guaranteed

The media’s task would be to report in a neutral, carefully researched and analysed manner and to provide space for the diversity of opinions. Unfortunately, this type of journalism is rarely encountered any more. Instead, a politically acceptable standardised mishmash is disseminated in order to bring readers into line in the sense of “constant dripping wears away the stone”. If this is not complied with, the person who dares to do so is defamed. This is what happened to a small, extremely reputable, independent Swiss newspaper – Mr Mörgeli has described this in articles in Weltwoche. A highly explosive, scandalous incident. The newspaper in question is to be penalised for providing space for voices that stand up for neutrality. The newspaper is apparently being used as an example to show that difficulties are to be expected if this is done publicly. The Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) and thus its head, Federal Councillor Amherd, are involved. What is going on here is unconstitutional and amounts to a scandal. It is embarrassing to have to remind you at this point of Article 16 on freedom of expression and information and Article 17 on freedom of the media in the Swiss Federal Constitution. I demand that you, Mrs Amherd, correct this offence so that this cannot happen again.

Dr med. Silvia Güntert, Bazenheid (SG)

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