The focus of the investigations: Peter Lauener (left), former spokesman for Federal Councilor Alain Berset.
Tobias OchsenbeinEditor Politics
The affair surrounding corona indiscretions has been keeping Switzerland in suspense for days: Peter Lauener (52), Federal Councilor Alain Berset’s (50) former head of communications, is said to be continuously confidential to the CEO of Ringier Verlag, Marc Walder (57), during the corona pandemic have sent information on the Federal Council’s planned Covid measures. The newspaper “Switzerland on the weekend” published this in mid-January.
The information sent to Ringier-Verlag, which also publishes Blick and SonntagsBlick, was intended to put pressure on Berset’s government colleagues. This is the accusation made by special investigator Peter Marti (72) in the criminal proceedings against Lauener. Just: Why are there criminal proceedings against Peter Lauener at all, and what does that have to do with the crypto affair? Blick explains the corona leaks chronologically.
February 2020: Various media are making public that Zuger Crypto AG has been producing manipulated encryption machines for decades. The US secret service CIA and the German Federal Intelligence Service BND, owners of the company, were able to use it to spy on half the world. The Swiss Intelligence Service (NDB) was a silent partner, so it too could overhear what was delicate in terms of neutrality policy. The business review delegation (GPDel) then starts an investigation. This consists of national and state councils and is responsible for highly secret matters relating to state security and the intelligence service.
October 2020: Days before the results of the investigation should have been published, the “NZZ” and the “Tages-Anzeiger” report on the secret investigation by the GPDel. A little later, they filed a complaint with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (BA) – for breach of official secrecy.
September 2021: The supervisory authority over the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (AB-BA) uses the retired chief judge and former Zurich SVP cantonal councilor Peter Marti as a special investigator to clarify the case. This is because the BA could also be biased.
During his investigations into the crypto affair, special investigator Marti came across the emails between Peter Lauener and Ringier CEO Marc Walder, excerpts of which were published by “Switzerland on the weekend”. Marti then asks the AB-BA for permission to extend the crypto investigation to the Corona mails. The AB-BA gives him the green light.
May 2022: Special investigator Marti takes Lauener into custody for four days and questions him on suspicion of breach of official secrecy. Federal Councilor Alain Berset and Ringier CEO Marc Walder will also be questioned as part of the process. However, not as an accused like Lauener, but as a person providing information.
July 2022: It turns out that Peter Marti opened proceedings against Peter Lauener and two employees of Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis (61): Secretary General Markus Seiler (54) and media chief Michael Steiner. Seiler headed the federal intelligence service until the end of November 2017. The presumption of innocence applies to all accused.
September 2022: Lauener reported Marti in September 2022, accusing him of abuse of office and other crimes. Lauener also requested that the emails he had exchanged with Walder be sealed. Reason: Marti had illegally expanded his investigations. Proceedings are currently under way at the Bern compulsory measures court to lift the seal. This decision in the unsealing process could be taken further by the courts. Marti’s investigations are blocked until there is clarity about a possible unsealing.
December 2022: Special investigator Peter Marti has to deal with a special lawyer after the complaint against himself. The extraordinary federal prosecutor, Stephan Zimmerli, can now investigate Marti. He must investigate whether Marti went too far in his investigations. The Department of Justice, then still under the aegis of Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter (59), gave the green light in December 2022.
January 2023: The newspaper “Switzerland at the weekend” publishes the interrogation protocols of Marti. Accordingly, Peter Lauener, the former spokesman for the current Federal President Alain Berset, is said to have continuously provided Ringier CEO Marc Walder with information on corona measures.
After these revelations, the federal prosecutor’s office submitted an application to its supervisory authority AB-BA, which is chaired by Alexia Heine (53), to appoint another extraordinary public prosecutor. This third special investigator is to investigate who sent the interrogation protocols and emails from Marti’s proceedings to “Switzerland at the weekend”.
In addition, it is still unclear whether and how the parliamentary audit commissions (GPK) will take a close look at the corona leaks. However, there are many indications that the GPK of the National Council, led by Prisca Birrer-Heimo (63) and that of the Council of States, led by Matthias Michel (59) from Zug, are taking on the leaks. The two GPK want to inform on Tuesday evening about the decision to deal with the Corona leaks.