3 face Swiss prosecution for atomic crimes

Dec. 23, 2010 at 10:19 PM

BERN, Switzerland, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Three Swiss engineers, a father and two sons, may be tried for helping Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan peddle nuclear weapons, a magistrate said Thursday.

Andreas Muller told The New York Times he believes it is important to shed on the activities of Friedrich, Urs and Marco Tinner, and whether the Swiss and U.S. governments destroyed evidence in the case. He said he had recommended the three be prosecuted for violating a Swiss law against aiding the spread of nuclear weapons.

"I would appreciate it if the attorney general would go to court with the case," Muller said. "With all that's happened, with the destruction of files and all, we need to see if the whole procedure still withstands the rule of law. I think that's a very big question mark."

The Times reported in 2008 that the Bush administration asked the Swiss government to destroy files that might reveal the Tinners' relationship with the CIA. Officials told the newspaper they provided valuable information about nuclear programs in Libya, Iran and Pakistan, including information that helped bring down Khan.

The Tinners have said they believed Khan was working on nuclear energy, not weapons. Muller said once Pakistan tested an atomic bomb in 1998 they had to know what Khan was up to.

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