The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Prosecutor leaves investigation into Berset’s alleged ‘Covid leaks’

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 26 May 2023
A special prosecutor investigating Swiss President Alain Berset’s alleged leaks of confidential Covid information to Swiss media has asked to leave the highly-publicized case.
Prosecutor leaves investigation into Berset’s alleged ‘Covid leaks’
Swiss President Alain Berset speaks this week at a press conference. Berset has been accused of the leaking of or knowing about the leaking of confidential Covid information to Swiss media (Keystone SDA).

Special prosecutor Peter Marti this week announced that he would be leaving the highly-publicized investigation into Swiss President Alain Berset’s suspected leaks of confidential information to the Swiss media at the height of the pandemic.

More on the case

Berset is in hot water over allegedly passing on information about federal Covid-19 measures to Swiss media house Ringier, according to a bombshell report in Schweiz am Wochenende (SaW).

Berset, who served as the head of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) during the Covid-19 pandemic, currently holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year. During the pandemic, Berset supervised such measures as a countrywide lockdown, mask mandates, vaccine protocols, and the controversial Mobile COVID Certificate.

According to the report, Berset’s former head of communications, Peter Lauener, repeatedly and illegally handed over confidential intelligence to Ringier concerning pandemic measures such as vaccine releases and when businesses would be allowed to reopen.

Read more: How many Swiss died of Covid vaccines?

Lauener reportedly regularly informed Ringier boss Marc Walder what the seven members of the Federal Council discussed pertaining to Covid measures that would affect Swiss residents and businesses. Ringier is a media conglomerate which owns Swiss publications such as Blick.

A special, federal investigator has been in the works since late 2020. Former judge Marti was appointed to the case as a special public prosecutor in January 2021.

Prosecutor leaves investigation into Berset’s alleged ‘Covid leaks’
Swiss government-backed Covid measures included mask mandates, business closures, border closures and the Covid Mobile Certificate only allowing vaccinated people to enter public spaces.
Where the case stands today

Berset, so far, has denied knowing anything about Lauener transmitting confidential information nor any sort of arrangement with Ringier. As for Lauener, he was put in jail after his questioning.

Marti said he “stumbled upon” emails that suggest Lauener is guilty of tipping off the media; Lauener responded by accusing Marti of criminal misconduct, as well.

Investigator Marti announced Thursday that he has asked to be released from his duties “for personal reasons” and that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has accepted his request.

Prosecutor leaves investigation into Berset’s alleged ‘Covid leaks’
Swiss protesting against government Covid measure in front of the Federal Palace in 2022 (Keystone SDA).
Nothing new for Berset

The case comes at a highly political moment as it is an election year. Even if Berset is not found guilty, critics say the accusations weaken his reputation and that of the Social Democratic Party.

Berset has already been the subject of several scandals. In 2019, a former lover of Berset’s attempted to blackmail him on the threat of publishing private letters and photographs. In 2021 he was arrested mid-flight by French military for flying over a restricted area in his private plane. And most recently, a Swiss banker filed criminal charges against Berset for making false statements surrounding Covid-19 vaccines.

Read more: Will Switzerland extend emergency Covid restrictions?

In the days after the “Covid leaks” report was published, Berset’s critics were outspoken.

“It is now difficult for Alain Berset to maintain credibility,” said Balthasar Glättli, the President of the Green political party, when he appeared on Swiss public television RTS’s “Forum” interview program.

If Berset was involved in or even knew about the illegal leaks, his actions are “harmful to the state,” Glättli added.

“It will certainly not strengthen his position as President of the Confederation, which is bad in the crisis situation we are experiencing now,” he continued. For some members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the actions are enough to warrant Berset’s resignation, even if it is highly unusual for Switzerland.

Berset should “ask how much credibility he and Switzerland are willing to lose for him to remain the President of the Confederation,” Valais SVP member Jean-Luc Addor told RTS. It is simply “the case of too much,” Addor added.

This article may be freely shared and re-printed, provided that it prominently links back to the original article.

Most Read

Sunday, April 7 – Round Up

7 April 2024
Sunday, April 7 – Round Up
Switzerland may fund French nuclear projects as it grapples with internal issues in the news this Sunday morning.

Swiss Employers Association: Increase Retirement Ages

8 April 2024
Swiss Employers Association: Increase Retirement Ages
Following the rejection of a pension initiative, the Swiss Employers' Association (SAV) recommends a gradual raise in retirement age to 66.

Diehl Defence Will Develop Drones For Swiss Defence Firm Skysec

12 April 2024
Diehl Defence Will Develop Drones For Swiss Defence Firm Skysec
Diehl Defence collaborates with Skysec Defence under a new agreement to enhance drone defense capabilities for military use.

Zurich VC Lakestar Secures $600 Million In New Funds

12 April 2024
Zurich VC Lakestar Secures $600 Million In New Funds
Lakestar successfully closes two new funds, accumulating $600 million, to advance Europe's digital sovereignty.

Stay in Touch!

Noteworthy

Thai Central Group to Allegedly Takeover KaDeWe
Thai Central Group to Allegedly Takeover KaDeWe
12 April 2024
Leonteq and Raiffeisen Extend Partnership
Leonteq and Raiffeisen Extend Partnership
12 April 2024