Jeffrey LewisTinner Tidbit

Many of us have long suspected that the Tinner Family — Father Freidrich and brothers Marco and Urs — Swiss businessman who participated in the AQ Khan network — were also US intelligence assets (See Urs Tinner and Tinner Talks).

World Radio Switzerland reports that a Swiss court ruling “confirms” that the Tinners were assets — though how this was confirmed is not made clear:

For the first time, it’s been officially confirmed that the Swiss brothers Urs and Marco Tinner did work for the American Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA.

The brothers and their father have been suspected of smuggling nuclear secrets for a group that supplied weapons components to Libya. The documents related to their case have been the subject of dispute – the Americans and some members of the Swiss government have wanted the documents destroyed.

The Tinners and the CIA denied that they were working together but information revealed in a ruling today from the Federal Court confirms that there was a secret collaboration between them.

The case against the Tinners continues.

Update | 8:33 23 February 2009 In the comments, reader Nik posts the relevant passage of the document, in which the court notes that “die Tinners auch für die USA gearbeitet hätten.”


  1. Nik (History)

    The decision of the federal court can be found here:

    The interesting passage is the following:
    “US-amerikanische Behörden traten mit den schweizerischen Behörden in Kontakt und wiesen darauf hin, dass die Tinners auch für die USA gearbeitet hätten. Die amerikanischen Behörden wollten vermeiden, dass diese Zusammenarbeit im Verlauf des Strafverfahrens aufgedeckt und verfolgt würde. Am 29. August 2007 lehnte es der Bundesrat gestützt auf Art. 105 BStP ab, die Ermächtigung zur Strafverfolgung der mutmasslichen Angehörigen der amerikanischen Nachrichtendienste in Bezug auf Artikel 271 StGB (verbotene Handlungen für einen fremden Staat) und der Tinners in Bezug auf Artikel 301 StGB (Nachrichtendienst für einen fremden Staat) zu erteilen.”

  2. mark hibbs

    On February 4, a Swiss government agency called the Geschaeftspruefungsdelegation (GPDel for short), which was directly involved in the deliberations by the government on how to handle the Tinner files which were destroyed, officially reported its version of events, and this was duly recorded by the Swiss media on Feb. 5. The GPDel recorded its conclusion that “The IAEA did not explicitly exclude the use of [data on file with] nuclear weapons plans for the purpose of a criminal trial.” That conclusion contradicted previous statements by Swiss government officials last year, who defended the destruction of the Tinner files on grounds that the IAEA had urged CH to take that action to prevent a proliferation of nuclear weapons data. Further—and this may be what Swiss Radio may have been referring to in the bits cited by the blog—the GPDel vigorously objected that the government also approved the destruction of “File 10”—one of the 39 Tinner dossiers held by the govenrment in the case, a file which in the view of GPDel was directly concerned with the relationships of the Tinner family members with the CIA.

  3. mark hibbs

    Thanks, Nik.

    Coming from federal court judges, I would certainly call this something like “proof.”

    to wit: “…the US officials wanted to avoid that the cooperation [between the Tinners and the CIA] be discovered and [legally] pursued…”

  4. pkr (History)

    The court stated that the Eidegenoessische Untersuchungsrichteramt (URA) claimed that the federal government had not only replaced the pages concerning the nuclear warhead design, but also the so called file 10.

    “Bei der Akteneinsicht habe sich herausgestellt, dass neben den Unterlagen zur Herstellung von Atomwaffen weitere Akten dem Zugriff der Justiz entzogen seien. Es handle sich um den gesamten Beilageordner Nr. 10 zum polizeilichen Schlussbericht vom 30. Mai 2006, der u.a. beweisrelevante Unterlagen zur Zusammenarbeit der Familie Tinner mit den amerikanischen Diensten enthalte.”

    The URA claims that this file contains “evidence relevant to the cooperation of the tinner family with US services”.

  5. J House (History)

    The Tinners were always wise not to check in to a hotel in Dubai…

  6. mark hibbs

    Thanks, pkr. The upshot of this is that we can, in fact, conclude that the government’s actions concerning “File 10” were in fact dealt with by the court, as well as having been cited as a serious issue by the Geschaeftspruefungsdelegation on Feb. 4. Case closed! (well, at least as far as the yes-no answer as to whether the Tinners were employed by the CIA…)