Nuclear smugglers to get reduced prison sentences ‘for helping CIA’
September 19, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Three Swiss engineers imprisoned for participating in an international nuclear smuggling ring are about to have their prison sentences significantly reduced, allegedly for having acted as agents for the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, Urs and Marco, were arrested in 2004 in connection with a multinational investigation into the nuclear smuggling network of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. The father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, who is widely known as A.Q. Khan, had for years subcontracted his nuclear services to North Korea, Iran and Libya, until 2004, when he was placed under house arrest by the Pakistani government, following pressure from Washington. Since then, the Tinners have been under “investigative custody”, a peculiar state of pre-trial detention prescribed by Swiss law. In 2009, Urs Tinner gave an interview to Swiss television, in which he claimed than he, along with his brother and father, had for years informed the CIA on Khan’s activities and assisted the US intelligence agency terminate the Libyan nuclear weapons program. It later emerged that the Swiss government had “inadvertently” shredded some crucial documents required in the prosecution case against the three engineers. Late last year there was apparently concern at Langley that some CIA secrets could surface in court, after Swiss government prosecutors announced that a trial for the Tinners would go ahead. However, new prosecution documents released on Tuesday show that a plea bargain agreement has been struck between the Swiss government and the three defendants in this highly sensitive case. According to the documents, the Tinners will admit the charges leveled against them in return for a significantly reduced sentence, which is shorter than the time they have already spent behind bars. The decision to offer the three engineers a plea bargain partly rests on their “cooperation with US authorities and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency”. But the documents also recognize that it may be difficult to substantiate the nuclear smuggling allegations against the Tinners, given the absence of the documents that were mysteriously shredded in 2007. The Tinners are scheduled to appear for sentencing before Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Tribunal next Monday. The CIA has refused comment on the case.