The Federal Council takes note of the report of the '1970' interdepartmental working group

Bern, 11.05.2016 - The '1970' interdepartmental working group has not found any indication of a secret agreement concluded in Geneva in September 1970 between Federal Councillor Pierre Graber, or any other Swiss representative, and Farouk Kaddoumi of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). In its report, the working group also states that it did not find any indications that the investigations and procedures conducted by the Swiss prosecution authorities following the Würenlingen air disaster in 1970 had been obstructed. The Federal Council took note of this report on Wednesday, transmitted it to the Control Committees, and authorised its publication in full.

The working group was made up of representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Department of Justice and Police, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Archives. It was mandated to investigate the following two questions linked to the terrorist attacks around 1970: During the aircraft hijackings of September 1970 to Zerka in Jordan did Switzerland conclude a secret agreement with the PLO with the aim of stopping further such attacks? Were the investigations and procedures of the federal judicial authorities following the air disaster in Würenlingen (canton of Aargau) in February 1970 carried out thoroughly?
To carry out its research the working group obtained access to all the dossiers it asked to examine. In keeping with the second-pair-of-eyes principle, it examined almost 400 files from six federal departments, the Federal Chancellery as well as Federal Police files. The working group also examined the Papers of former Federal Councillor Graber and the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. It also asked and obtained written replies from Farouk Kaddoumi, Walter Buser (the only living participant at the meetings of the Federal Council in 1970) and from Pierre-Yves Simonin, Mr Graber's personal advisor in 1970, who had not spoken about the issue in public.

The claim that there had been a secret agreement and a possible link between the agreement and the judicial procedures was put forward in January 2016 in the book Schweizer Terrorjahre. Das geheime Abkommen mit der PLO (Swiss terror years: The secret agreement with the PLO) by Marcel Gyr.

Having concluded its investigation, whose extent and procedures are detailed in its report, the working group did not find any source that confirms that a meeting took place in Geneva in September in 1970 between Farouk Kaddoumi and Pierre Graber or any other high-ranking Swiss official or that would lead to the conclusion that it is likely that such a meeting took place. The working group also asked Mr Gyr to verify the reliability of information that might be in possession of his anonymous sources, but he declined the request.

The investigations of the Federal Criminal Police carried out in connection with the Würenlingen air disaster of 21 February 1970 and which involved research and international mutual legal assistance were also completed. The dossiers it examined did not reveal any indication of possible political pressure exerted by the Federal Council on the investigations carried out by the Federal Criminal Police. In particular, there is no indication of any hindrance to the investigations and procedures carried out by the Swiss federal criminal prosecution authorities.

The Federal Council transmitted the final report of the working group, including the annexes, to the Control Committees of the two parliamentary chambers.    A presentation of this report and the hearings on this matter are planned for the meeting of the Control Committees on 19 May 2016.

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