US spies operate in Switzerland without much fear of being unmasked, because Swiss intelligence, though knowledgeable and very professional, poses no threat to them, former NSA contributor Edward Snowden told Swiss TV.
“The reason that made Switzerland so interesting as the capital of espionage – particularly Geneva – has not changed,” Snowden said in an interview to Darius Rochebin on RTS, a Swiss broadcaster. The two spoke at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights on March 5. The transcript of the interview waspublished in le Temps, a Swiss French-language newspaper, this Saturday.
“There have always been international headquarters, the United Nations, WTO, WHO, ICRC [in Geneva]. There are representations of foreign governments, embassies, international organizations, NGOs … A number of organizations, and all of them are in one city [Geneva]!”
According to Snowden, other Swiss cities have also been “affected” by US spies.
“You have exceptional flows of capital and money in Zurich. You have bilateral agreements and international trade in Bern,” he said.
The ex-NSA man recalled the time he was working in Geneva as an undercover US agent. He said the Americans weren’t afraid of Swiss intelligence.
“Swiss services were not considered as a threat. [They] are also very knowledgeable and very professional. But they are small in numbers.”
Snowden compared Swiss intelligence to spying agencies in France, saying they respected French spies who are known to be “sophisticated and aggressive.”
He drew examples of CIA operations concerning weapons of mass destruction, adding that people “involved in nuclear proliferation” were violating the law in Switzerland, Germany and neighboring countries.
And unfortunately, “political influence” was seen in these cases, which “rose to the highest level in the government.”
“That’s why representatives of the US government, even when they violate the Swiss laws, have a certain level of comfort, knowing that there will be no consequences,” Snowden concluded.