Investigative Journalist Kurt Pelda Addresses Allegations of Collaboration with Alp Services

In the midst of the ongoing scandal surrounding the private Geneva-based detective agency and intelligence firm Alp Services, renowned Swiss investigative journalist Kurt Pelda finds himself embroiled in the controversy. The Beobachter recently conducted an extensive interview with Pelda, shedding light on his involvement with the firm for the first time.

Alp Services has allegedly conducted surveillance on approximately 1000 individuals, 400 companies, and various organizations across Europe and Switzerland. The purported objective of their covert operations was to expose potential associates and sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, deemed as radical-Islamist.

Documents retrieved from one of Alp Services’ servers and subsequently handed over to the French investigative portal, Mediapart, reveal that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the mastermind behind this undertaking.

Referred to as “Abu Dhabi Secrets,” the case has garnered international attention with prominent media outlets such as Mediapart, Der Spiegel, The New Yorker, and West Swiss news portal Heidi News covering the affair. However, in the German-speaking region of Switzerland, only Infosperber and Beobachter have reported on the scandal.

Kurt Pelda, known for his extensive work as a war reporter and investigative journalist, has a distinguished career contributing to leading publications like NZZ, Tages-Anzeiger, and Weltwoche. He is currently associated with CH Media.

The leaked documents indicate that Pelda had taken on assignments for Alp Services and received financial compensation in return, raising suspicions about his possible exploitation by the intelligence firm. In response to these accusations, Pelda offered an in-depth explanation during the interview with the Beobachter.

He clarified that his collaboration with Alp Services involved researching eight internal reports on Islamists, but he never authored any media articles on their behalf. Pelda emphasized his commitment to journalistic integrity and his independence throughout the process.

When questioned about Alp Services’ questionable reputation, Pelda defended himself by highlighting that many individuals in his profession have faced similar scrutiny. He also expressed concerns about media outlets using illegally obtained documents, pointing out the hypocrisy of such actions while criticizing Alp Services for the same conduct.

Addressing the issue of payment from the agency, Pelda explained that the remuneration was for his research and not for writing articles. He firmly stated that he made it clear to Alp Services that he would not compromise his journalistic principles to serve their interests.

Pelda’s research primarily concerned Islamist extremists, jihadists, and their connections to terrorists and armed militias. Notably, two of his reports focused on the Muslim Brotherhood. He relied on publicly accessible sources such as Facebook, often supplemented with photos and video clips.

While Pelda received guidance from Alp Services for the research assignments, he maintained that he acted as the source for their information and not vice versa. As a freelance contributor, he believed the collaboration would not impede his journalistic independence.

Regarding his role as an unknowing pawn in the affairs of the UAE, Pelda claimed he was unaware of the true identity of Alp Services’ clients, assuming it might be a think tank focused on Islamist matters. His lack of proficiency in Arabic made it difficult to decipher the nature of the Facebook profiles he analyzed during his research.

In a surprising revelation, Pelda disclosed that he utilized the money from Alp Services to infiltrate radical Islamist circles in Switzerland and among neo-Nazis. He asserted that such covert operations are permissible and endorsed by the Swiss Press Council when traditional journalistic methods prove inadequate.

Amidst accusations of being exploited by Alp Services, Pelda vehemently denied any wrongdoing and adamantly refuted claims of compromising his journalistic ethics. As the investigation into “Abu Dhabi Secrets” continues to unravel, questions surrounding the operations of Alp Services and the involvement of high-profile figures like Kurt Pelda persist.

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