Family Charged With Aiding Nuclear Smuggling


Swiss prosecutors have charged a father and his two sons with aiding an international nuclear smuggling ring that supplied Libya’s atomic weapons programme.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office said Friedrich Tinner and his sons Urs and Marco had acknowledged breaking Switzerland’s laws banning the export of certain arms.

In a statement released on Tuesday, prosecutors said they had agreed on a plea bargain with the defendants that covers sentencing, costs and the forfeiting of assets. Breaking Swiss laws banning the export of nuclear material normally carries a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

As a result of the politically sensitive aspects of the investigation, no evidence would be heard in court, it was stated.

Urs Tinner claimed in a 2009 interview with Swiss television that he tipped off United States’ intelligence about a delivery of centrifuge parts meant for Libya’s nuclear weapons programme. But the Prosecutor’s Office said it was unable to clarify this “satisfactorily”.

The Tinners have been under investigation by the Swiss authorities for almost a decade for allegedly illegally supplying goods to Libyans as part of a secret nuclear arms programme that started in the late 1970s.

Urs and Marco Tinner were in Swiss custody from 2005 until 2008 and 2009 respectively. In April the European Court of Human Rights turned down an appeal they lodged about the duration of their pre-trial detention as well as the length of the legal procedure in general.

The case against the Tinners prompted a political outcry in Switzerland three years ago when it was revealed that the Swiss government had ordered key evidence to be shredded.


swissinfo is an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Its role is to inform Swiss living abroad about events in their homeland and to raise awareness of Switzerland in other countries. swissinfo achieves this through its nine-language internet news and information platform.

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