Magazine spies on Switzerland’s top spy

A Swiss magazine says it spent 24 hours snooping on the Alpine country's intelligence boss to give spies a taste of their own medicine.

Magazine spies on Switzerland's top spy
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stefan Howald, deputy editor of the left-wing weekly WochenZeitung (WOZ), said on Thursday it had managed to gather a raft of private information about spy-in-chief Markus Seiler.`
“We wanted to show what it’s like when you’re spied on, and to reverse the roles,” Howald told AFP.
WOZ published a special edition recounting how it had used simple tactics to collect details of Seiler’s life, such as talking to his neighbours and even his former primary school teacher.
It also provided details about his salary and personal assets.
Contacted by AFP, Switzerland’s intelligence service said it would not comment on the magazine’s actions.
Given that a reporter could gather information so easily, questions need to be raised about how much data Swiss intelligence is able to amass using much more sophisticated methods, the magazine said.
Controversially, WOZ also adopted another spying tactic by giving its target a chance to escape the public gaze.
“Ahead of publication, we offered Markus Seiler the option of buying all 20,000 copies of the special edition,” Howald said.
That would have required Seiler to shell out 120,000  ($132,690), but WOZ never heard from him by its deadline on Wednesday.
In addition to publishing the special edition, the magazine also launched a website on the stunt,
Howald said that WOZ had decided to act because it claims Swiss intelligence ducks all potential controls, and it alleged that the service had acted to cover up the theft of data by an employee in 2012.
The employee who stole the data was prosecuted, but WOZ and activists say the intelligence service should have been shaken up by the parliamentary commission which oversees it.

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