Switzerland blocks Syrian assets

Switzerland has blocked 27 million francs (€21.9 million) worth of assets linked to the Syrian regime, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Sunday.

Financial sanctions and travel restrictions were imposed against 23 key players in the Syrian regime in May, including President Bashar al-Assad, intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk and interior minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Chaar, for their “involvement in the repression against demonstrators.”  

Contacted by AFP, SECO confirmed information first published in Swiss German paper ZentralSchweiz am Sonntag.  

“The total sum blocked is 27 million francs,” said a SECO spokeswoman, adding however that she could not specify to whom exactly the assets belonged.  

More than 1,360 civilians have been killed and thousands more arrested in the Syrian regime’s crackdown against pro-democracy protests since mid-March, according to human rights groups.  

Amid unrest in the Arab world, Switzerland has blocked some 1.217 billion francs in assets so far this year, according to ATS.  

They include 650 million francs linked to Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi regime, 410 billion francs linked to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his entourage as well as 60 million francs belonging to former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo’s regime.


Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State

A 31-year-old woman from Winterthur who tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) is standing trial under Swiss anti-terror laws.

Swiss woman stands trial for attempting to join Islamic State
The federal criminal court in Bellinzona. Photo: Swiss Confederation/OFCL

The alleged ‘jihadi tourist' appeared before Switzerland's federal criminal court in Bellinzona on Friday, the Swiss news agency SDA reported. 

In December 2015, the woman, accompanied by her four-year-old child, attempted to travel to Syria via Greece and Turkey in order to join IS, the authorities allege. 

Her intended destination was Raqqa, which was at the time an IS stronghold in Syria.

The woman was prevented from continuing her journey by the Greek authorities and was arrested at Zurich airport on her return to Switzerland in January 2016. 

The Swiss attorney general's office filed an indictment against the Swiss national for offences under the federal law that bans terror groups including Isis. 

According to the indictment, the woman radicalized herself through internet propaganda after converting to Islam in 2009.

It says the Swiss national believed it was the duty of all Muslims to support IS.

She said she rejected western values.

This is only the second case concerning a so-called ‘jihadi tourist' to go before Switzerland's federal criminal court. 

The first prosecution of its kind took place in 2016, when a 26-year-old man was found guilty of attempting to travel to join Isis and given an 18-month suspended jail sentence.

Islamic State has been banned in Switzerland since 2014.