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Press freedom: Swiss secret service agent spies "privately" on journalists
14.06.2014 [media@WT]

A Swiss secret service agent was arrested yesterday on suspicion of hacking computers of journalists in the Giroud wine fraud scandal. The Federal Intelligence Service FIS says, the agent may have done spying on his own "private" mission.

Secret service agent arrested
In the fraud scandal Giroud, a secret service agent, wine producer Giroud and two accomplices were yesterday (13.06.2014) remanded for at least one month.

In 2013, the wine producer Giroud was accused of illegal wine cutting. Giroud has been under investigation on suspicion of tax fraud and other frauds since 2011.
Spying on journalist to determine source of leaks
Journalists were teasing out news reports about the affair. Giroud obviously didn't like the news about his alleged doings. In May 2014 Giroud managed to get a local court to temporarily stop in-depth TV news reports by Radio Télévision Suisse RTS. The Federation of Swiss Journalists Impressum then condemned the "censuring" by the court which it said was a "threat to press freedom".

To determine the source of the leaks to the media, Giroud apparently hired spies who were now arrested: The secret service agent, a hacker and a private detective are accused of spying on those journalists and stealing computer data.
Intelligence Service FIS denies involvement
The secret service FIS denies being involved in the case. However, Balthasar Glättli, a member of the federal parliament, is not so sure: "FIS is involved in an affair in which press freedom is being undermined".

On Swiss National Radio SRF, Glättli also refers to another FIS scandal. In 2012, a massive data theft by a senior IT technician working at the FIS was reported.

In an interview yesterday, the director of the FIS, Markus Seiler, says that he cannot observe his staff, let alone off work.
Secret service increasingly being criticized
As soon as a secret service knows of such an incident then it should certainly dismiss the agent concerned, says Erich Schmidt, an intelligence expert that was interviewed by Radio SRF.

The various affairs surrounding global surveillance disclosures and foreign intelligence agencies, the unfolding Giroud affair, the massive expansion of Swiss lawful intercept and the expansion of surveillance with the new intelligence law are likely not going to put more trust in the Swiss secret service FIS.
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