Qatar spied on a former Swiss attorney general and illegally overheard a secret meeting with the head of FIFA, amid fears that he could be stripped of the organization of the 2022 World Cup.
As reported by the Swiss weekly NZZ am Sonntag, Qatar organized an intelligence operation to spy on an informal meeting that occurred six years ago between the then attorney general of Switzerland, Michael Lauber, and the head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.
The newspaper said that its months-long investigation had revealed that the covert meeting in Bern on June 16, 2017, which after being revealed cost Lauber his job, had been secretly recorded for Qatar. According to the German newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, the room where the meeting took place was equipped with microphones.
At the time, Lauber’s office was investigating allegations of massive corruption in world football, including irregularities in the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
However, when it became known that he had three informal meetings with Infantino, and in particular the one in 2017, he had to resign.
The meeting was held at the luxurious Hotel Schweizerhof, managed by Qatari owners since 2009, in a conference room located in the same corridor as the Qatari embassy, NZZ said.
Various investigations revealed that, fearing that it would lose the right to organize the 2022 World Cup due to accusations of corruption and human rights violations, Qatar launched an operation of international influence. The country spied on FIFA officials and Lauber, according to NZZ, who claimed to have obtained “secret official documents that prove the espionage action” at the Schweizerhof.
The newspaper also stated that sources with direct knowledge of the incident had described the operation, on condition of anonymity, and had said that it was codenamed “Project Matterhorn” (for the Matterhorn).
The sources said that the main purpose of the espionage was to gather incriminating material that could be used to pressure the prosecutor.
The investigation is in addition to the data revealed last November when the Swiss media SRF and Swiss Info detailed that Qatar had orchestrated a large-scale and long-term intelligence operation against FIFA officials in which it spent hundreds of millions of dollars on hacking operations to guarantee the organization of the 2022 World Cup.
As revealed by that investigation, the State of Qatar ordered the “Project Merciless” to achieve the candidacy for the World Cup after the massive criticism caused by the granting of the tournament by FIFA to the controversial country in 2010. The plan was enormous: the budget amounted to 387 million dollars. And the activities spanned five continents. In fact, the highest levels of the Qatari government were involved in espionage activities, including the current head of state, the Emir of Qatar.
The documents show that the project wanted to ensure that nothing could jeopardize the celebration of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
This article was originally published on infobae.com