The Swiss Parliament has mandated the government to take a firmer stance on Russian spies, requiring the expulsion of individuals who threaten Swiss national security through

illegal intelligence activities.

The Senate has aligned with an earlier vote by the House of Representatives, favoring expulsion over prosecution for offenders.

On Monday, the Senate followed a recommendation from its Foreign Affairs Committee, with 32 votes in favor, nine against, and two abstentions. “Switzerland, as the seat of international organizations and a central European state, is an attractive location for intelligence services,” said Senate committee spokeswoman Franziska Roth.

According to the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), one in five Russian intelligence officers stationed in Europe operates in Switzerland. These illegal activities threaten the secure dialogue spaces provided by International Geneva, posing risks to Switzerland’s diplomatic interests and targeted individuals.

Prohibited intelligence activities not only jeopardize sensitive information and secrets of Switzerland but also threaten the freedom of expression and assembly of certain communities, potentially damaging Switzerland’s reputation as a host country.

A minority in the Senate argued against the motion, seeing no added benefit over current practices. Measures such as preventive entry bans and the expulsion of exposed agents are already in place, according to Petra Gössi.

While prohibited intelligence services are punishable in Switzerland, Defence Minister Viola Amherd assured the Senate that even if the motion were adopted, individual case assessments and decisions would still be made to “take due account of the special circumstances and the interests of Switzerland.” Photo by NVO, Wikimedia commons.