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Swiss president faces parliamentary probe over media leaks

(AFP)

The Swiss parliament decided Tuesday to open an investigation targeting President Alain Berset, among others, over media leaks linked to government measures at the height of the pandemic.

The investigation will focus on “numerous indiscretions concerning government affairs related to the Covid-19 pandemic”, the parliament’s control committee said in a statement.

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The threat of a parliamentary probe has been looming for days, amid suspicion of significant leaks of confidential information from the Swiss health ministry, in an affair dubbed “Bersetgate” and “Coronaleaks” by Swiss media.

Health Minister Berset, who currently holds the country’s rotating one-year presidency, was the face of the government’s Covid response.

The Schweiz am Wochende newspaper reported earlier this month that Berset’s former communications chief had, at the height of the pandemic, systematically leaked information to one of Switzerland’s largest media houses about confidential government plans for measures to counter the spread of the virus, including around vaccines and the reopening of businesses.

The paper said it based its allegations on information that emerged in a report by a special prosecutor probing the broader case, but not targeting Berset. 

The parliamentary investigation will be conducted by a special working group, and will be aimed at “clarifying which indiscretions have been committed in connection with government affairs relating to the Covid pandemic”, Tuesday’s statement said.

It would also seek to determine who was behind the leaks, and who they were destined for, it added.

“It will also examine which measures” Berset, in his capacity as health minister, and the government, took to avert “these indiscretions which happened regularly”, the statement said.

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