Switzerland sentences three AQ Khan network affiliates

Published: September 26, 2012
Tinners worked with the global nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, to supply Libya with nuclear weapons technology.

Tinners worked with the global nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, to supply Libya with nuclear weapons technology.

GENEVA: Switzerland’s highest court on Tuesday sentenced a family of Swiss engineers accused of helping Libya in its failed efforts years ago to build up a nuclear weapons programme.

But Friedrich Tinner, 70, and his two sons Marco and Urs were free to leave the Federal Court of Justice in Lausanne because of the length of time they had already served in detention and a plea bargaining agreement.

Urs and Marco Tinner received sentences of 50 months and 41 months respectively, while Friedrich was given a 24-month suspended sentence for offences under the War Material Act.

The case began in the 1990s, when the Tinners started working with the global nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atom bomb, who supplied Libya with nuclear weapons technology.

Swiss prosecutors launched a case against Marco, 43, and Urs, 46, in October 2004 and against their father the following year.

After their arrests in 2004 and 2005, the brothers spent three and four years in jail respectively awaiting trial, while their father was incarcerated for nearly two years.

Before sentencing, the defendants refused to talk about their collaboration with the CIA, which began when Urs contacted the US intelligence agency in 2003, the court heard.

The information they supplied pointed authorities to a German cargo ship that was stopped in the Mediterranean en route to Libya, media reports said.

Five containers filled with sensitive material were seized, effectively blocking Libya’s nuclear ambitions.

The Tinners said they had not spoken to Swiss authorities because “the affair was in good hands”, in reference to the United States.

The strange case was the subject of a book published last year by two US journalists, Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz, called “Fallout”, which tracks the way the United States secretly penetrated Khan’s network to prevent Libya and Iran from obtaining nuclear secrets.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Hammad
    Sep 26, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Knew it. Ghairat brigade will spin this as a conspiracy too.


  • jism
    Sep 26, 2012 - 9:13AM

    A Q khan was not a nuclear scientist,nor is an any extraordinary engineer in building missiles,he is just an metallurgical engineer.even after this, many regard him as some kind of genius and father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, in reality he did not carryout any ground breaking research in nuclear field,instead he smuggled nuclear and ballistic missiles technology from various countries,yet many actually believe that Pakistan’s nuclear technology is genuine, Pakistan’s smuggling of nuclear and missile tech is an open book,the whole world knows about it.
    you can blind your country men with patriotism,but you cannot fool the world.


  • sh
    Sep 26, 2012 - 9:30AM

    This is the reason why iran should not have nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are for protection , not for selling them.


  • Sep 26, 2012 - 7:10PM

    For additional background regarding the intellectual property thefts committed by A.Q. Khan, please see atoomspionage dot com. While the bulk of the site is in Dutch, there is an English language introduction. This website’s author is Frits Veerman, who was formerly a colleague of A.Q Khan, Ph.D. while both worked at URENCO in Almelo, The Netherlands.

    Search for by title the PDF version of my 2007 report, “The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit” which discusses the connection between A.Q. Khan, work visas, and intellectual property theft.

    Search for this June 16, 2008 article to learn more about the intellection property that the A Q Khan network acquired and is likely still disseminating, “Swiss Smugglers Had Advanced Nuclear Weapons Designs” By David Albright


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