Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Swiss journalists Acquitted in case of leaked secret CIA prison fax

It is a suprise that there is such a law in Switzerland. I hope Bush does not read this. He may want a similar law in the US but then the Democrats would not support it right!

Swiss journalists acquitted in case of leaked secret CIA prisons fax
The Associated PressPublished: April 17, 2007


ST. GALLEN, Switzerland: Three journalists were acquitted Tuesday of breaking Swiss military secrecy laws by publishing classified intelligence material about alleged secret CIA prisons in Europe.

A military tribunal ruled that SonntagsBlick reporters Sandro Brotz, Beat Jost and the weekly's former editor-in-chief, Christoph Grenacher, had not revealed military secrets when they published a purported Egyptian government fax intercepted by the Swiss foreign intelligence agency.

The journalists said the document was discovered on a train.

The fax, details of which were published in the Zurich-based weekly in January 2006, alleged that the United States detained 23 Iraqi and Afghan terror suspects at a base in Romania.

SonntagsBlick said the fax was sent by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to its embassy in London and contained allegations about similar U.S. detention centers in Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria.



Swiss media rights groups and lawmakers had protested against the trial of the journalists before a court martial, arguing that civilians — particularly members of the media — should not be subject to military secrecy laws.

Reacting to the verdict, the newspaper's current editor-in-chief said the journalists had acted correctly and in the public interest.

"Civilians and particularly journalists must never again be put before a military tribunal," Marc Walder said in a statement.

The newspaper said it would continue to work toward changing the Swiss law, first passed in 1927, which allows for civilians to be put on trial before a court martial if they reveal military secrets, commit sabotage or obstruct the army's work.

Prosecutors had demanded a fine of 39,600 Swiss francs (US$32,700; €24,100) for Grenacher and 12,600 francs (US$9,900; €7,300) for Brotz and Jost, arguing the journalists had compromised the neutral country's intelligence-gathering operations.

Prosecutor Beat Hirt told the tribunal the men had displayed a reckless attitude to national security.

Defense lawyer Matthias Schwaibold asked the tribunal to acquit the men of all charges on the grounds that the publication did not harm the intelligence agency's work and details of the purported detention centers had already been widely publicized.

Allegations about secret CIA prisons in Europe had previously appeared in American newspapers, but the leak of the intercepted fax embarrassed the Swiss government.

A report by the European Parliament published in February named a number of countries that allegedly allowed the CIA to use their territory to transport terrorism suspects, in contravention of human rights standards. In September, U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged that terrorism suspects have been held in CIA-run prisons overseas, but did not say where.

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