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Cablegate: Gos "Heads Up": Swiss Federal Prosecutor To

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSW #1804 2651528
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221528Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BERN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3128
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L BERN 001804

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR L, S/CT, EUR/AGS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2016
TAGS: PTER KJUS PHUM SZ
SUBJECT: GOS "HEADS UP": SWISS FEDERAL PROSECUTOR TO
ANNOUNCE FINDINGS ON OVERFLIGHT INVESTIGATION


Classified By: DCM Carol Urban, Reasons 1.4 b/d

1.(C) Summary: Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs Deputy Political Director Anton Thalmann informed DCM on September 22 that the g Prosecutor's office would in the coming two weeks release its findings on an investigation of alleged CIA overflights of Switzerland. Accompanied by International Law division deputy chief Christine Schraner and Americas director Yvonne Baumann, Thalmann told DCM and Poloff that Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey wanted to share this information with the Embassy as part of her "no surprises" policy. The DFA, Thalmann said, did not know what the contents of the prosecutors findings would be, but the DFA hoped whatever the result, it would not hurt the overall bilateral relationship. DCM underscored the importance of Swiss officials making public statements highlighting the many areas of positive bilateral cooperation. End summary.

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Abu Omar or another Overflight Issue
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2.(C) According to Thalmann, the Federal Prosecutor's investigative task was to determine whether any overflights of Swiss territory by airplanes allegedly carrying detainees had violated the Swiss penal code and, if so, whether named U.S. citizens could be indicted. Thalmann focused in particular on the February 2003 "abduction" of Abu Omar in Milan, Italy, for which Milan prosecutors accuse U.S. operatives of transporting Abu Omar from Aviano to Ramstein in a U.S. military aircraft, overflying Switzerland in the process. (Comment: Embassy is unsure whether Thalmann knew that this case would be the focus of the prosecutor's report, or if he was speculating. End comment.)

3.(C) Thalmann said that once the prosecution's findings are released, the Swiss Federal Council (cabinet) would decide what political steps to take. Speaking on behalf of the DFA, Thalmann said he hoped both Switzerland and the United States would work together to manage the matter, particularly in view of the upcoming visit of EUR A/S Dan Fried on September 29.

4.(C) DCM thanked Thalmann for the heads up. Cognizant that the prosecutor's report could lead to negative press, DCM underlined the importance for Swiss officials to make public statements highlighting the many areas of positive bilateral cooperation. DCM also emphasized the speculative nature of the overflights issue as portrayed by Swiss senator and Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty. Poloff pointed out that the alleged transport of Abu Omar aboard the Aviano-Ramstein aircraft was merely the Milan prosecutor's guess at what had transpired.

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Comment
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5.(C) Regardless of whether there is actual evidence of Swiss laws violated, it is reasonable to expect that the prosecutor's report will be critical of the United States. In this event, Thalmann implied that the Swiss Government may publicly want to be seen as admonishing the United States on the issue, while downplaying the report's impact in private. While we welcome our counterparts' private assurances of wanting to keep things constructive, we will continue to stress that it is not sufficient to say positive things about the U.S.-Swiss relationship behind closed doors -- the Swiss also have to make the good news public.
CONEWAY

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