A Swiss judge has recommended that charges be brought against three men who helped the CIA spy on an atomic smuggling ring headed up by Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan. The men, Friedrich Tinner and his sons, Urs and Marco, helped Khan run the network, which supplied the likes of Iran, Libya, and North Korea, but they also passed information to the CIA, and helped sabotage equipment. Prosecuting them could, according to the New York Times, “expose some of the CIA’s deepest secrets.”
The Bush administration strove mightily to protect the Tinners from prosecution, even convincing Swiss authorities to destroy evidence found in their homes, businesses, and computers. They “massively interfered in the wheels of justice,” says magistrate Andreas Muller, who, after three years investigating the case, has recommended the spies be charged with “supporting the development of atomic weapons.” Among the uncomfortable issues the trial could raise: Why the CIA didn’t seize a set of nuclear bomb designs that later showed up in Libya.