Tinner nuclear smuggling ring documents may prove CIA connection

Urs Tinner

Urs Tinner

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last January I wrote about Urs Tinner, a Swiss engineer who worked under Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, and was said at the time to be leading “the world’s biggest nuclear smuggling ring”. In 2003, Tinner was arrested, along with his father Friedrich and brother Marco, in connection with an attempt to smuggle centrifuges into Libya. Many were surprised, however, when in 2008 Tinner was released from prison, after the CIA, whose tip led to his arrest in Germany, said it was not interested in prosecuting him. Earlier this year, Tinner went on Swiss television and acknowledged that he had worked as an informant for the CIA –some say he was recruited in as early as 2000. His assertion has so far remained unsubstantiated, because the Swiss government has denied public access to the documents it had prepared for Tinner’s trial, documents that were never used. In fact, the original documents were secretly destroyed in 2007 by Swiss authorities. But in December of 2008, it emerged that copies of nearly 100 pages of court documents had survived the secret purging. Now Switzerland’s Justice Ministry has agreed to allow public viewing of the 100 pages, which are said to contain some of the most sensitive information concerning the so-called Tinner nuclear smuggling ring affair. Many suspect that the information contained in the documents will prove once and for all Urs Tinner’s relationship with the CIA. We will keep an eye on developments in Switzerland.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to Tinner nuclear smuggling ring documents may prove CIA connection

  1. Travis Long says:

    What is the problem with Tinner being an informant. You write as if thta would make him a traitor of what; or to whom. Khan, Qaddafi, who?

  2. intelNews says:

    That’s a good point, although I would imagine it depends on one’s definition of traitor. The skepticism in the report above has to do mostly with Tinner’s activities in the nuclear underground. In other words, it may be pertinent to ask to what extent an informant’s actions advanced the goals of nuclear smugglers. This is a standard ethical dilemma in working with informants of all kinds. Thanks for your comment. [JF]

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