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Parliament to probe Swiss interior minister blackmail affair

Published on October 25, 2021

A parliamentary sub-committee will examine the role of the police and judiciary in prosecuting a woman for attempting to blackmail Swiss interior minister Alain Berset.

Parliamentarians will determine whether prosecutors acted appropriately or if they violated due process of the law because of Berset’s status.

The Weltwoche newspaper first reported last year that an unidentified woman had been fined for threatening to make public letters and photographs unless Berset paid CHF100,000 ($110,000).

The blackmail attempt happened in November 2019 and the fine was handed out in September 2020 after Berset issued a criminal complaint against his former lover.

Earlier this year, Weltwoche ran another article claiming that Berset deployed state resources to deal with his private complaint. The story alleged that Berset asked his ministry’s secretary-general to look into the case, while an elite police unit, normally used for risky operations, was also reportedly dispatched to take the woman into custody.

This article prompted an investigation by Swiss federal prosecutors into whether official documents were leaked to Weltwoche.

On Monday, the parliamentary sub-committee said it would be launching its own probe into the affair. It will also ask whether state funds were inappropriately used to secure the conviction.