showing how the Swiss juridical Alp can labor over "a most damaging" spy case to give birth to a mouse, a cute little bastard aptly named "bagatelle" by the Chief Judge, who leaves it up to the Author and the Reader to discern the larger lessons.
CHRIS MARX was touring from Bretagne to Carpathia without a passport. The Swiss police knew that he was away, but pretended not to notice. In this world, you cannot hide for long. And, if you try to stay away, you can be extradited. So you can only defect.
The Swiss police obviously believed that he would not defect to the Redlands, hence must not have thought him to be guilty of much if anything, and certainly not an admirer of the communist way of life.
On the other hand, they might be hoping that he would defect. They could prove so little against him that they would be pleased by the presumption of guilt that a flight to Moscow would let them entertain.
Then he was given back his passport. A good sign! Not necessarily. For it might mean that they had given up hope that he would flee the country. And now they would have to bring him up on charges. Or give up the game.
Once more, ominously, his passport was picked up, the prelude to the preferment of charges, and on November 17, 1988, the Prosecutor of the Canton of Basle signed and sent him the Anklageschrift, the statement of charges, letting him respond in writing to them, which he did, denying them all. Trial was set for March 14 to 17, 1989. I was notified and made plans to be on hand for the proceedings.
As the date approached, my concerns mounted. I could no longer be fully confident. I can imagine why Marx should not be optimistic.
The law is never certain. Its determination is made by judges; it is not self-executing, automatic.
"Coffee-cup jurisprudence" my professors of law used to call it: if the judge got up on the right side of the bed that morning and had a good cup of coffee, you could expect benevolence from him.
And so to the Sociology of Law: law as the educational, moral, religious, social class, and psychological perceptions of the Judges shape it. And their ideology: do they favor detente or not, prefer landlords or tenants, managers or workers, East or West, the sciences or the humanities?
I am also thinking: most judges take a grave view of the law. Ergo, they are irritated by Defendants who seem to possess "the wrong attitude" toward authority and laws, who "take the rules too lightly." It hardly matters then whether one is innocent or guilty if he makes a bad impression, and you know who gives this impression! Prisoners like this should be punished for "whatever they got away with before." And anyhow "suffering is good for the soul".
And is not next week Eastertime, Passover, the time for sacrificing a lamb "sur l'autel de la patrie", with invocations against the godless Redlands? The voters who elect us will remember this day.
Suspicious behavior is not a crime; else the laws would be blasted to bits. Last year a dark-skinned black American with a sensational Afro hairdo, who affected outré clothes and chose to gambol in rich white neighborhoods of Hollywood, was arrested time after time by the police and, after unpleasant interrogation, released with warnings to cease and desist from his meanderings. He finally prosecuted the police for harassing him and interfering with his constitutional right to move about freely. He won his case.
On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court has just determined that the Constitutional right of freedom from unreasonable search does not protect a person with a suspicious profile from arrest and search at an airport. The predetermined "Drug Courier Profile" in the test case consisted of a 48-hour round trip paid for in cash between two "hot drug areas" (Miami and Honolulu), of carrying little baggage (save cocaine, as it turned out), of using a name that did not check with a claimed phone number, and of appearing nervous. The two judges out of nine who dissented objected not so much to the search as to setting up a category for searching and legalizing it for general application.
There could arise a "Profile xyz" for each and every kind of crime, like "Being friendly to Russians, visiting Moscow, being absent from work on October Revolution Day, and humming the `Internationale' from time to time."
Or try this profile for the youthful "Computer Hacker," engendered by the German writer Joseph Weizenbaum:
By their rumpled clothes, their ill-washed face, unshaven chin, wildly disordered hair, one can see how neglectful of their bodies they are and oblivious of the world around them. Completely captivated, they exist only through and for the computer. They are computer fetishists, neurotics of programming. The phenomenon is world-wide.
This is what the police must look for, as with the Chaos Computer Club founded in Hamburg in 1985, whose members are pledged to determine the future by computer and to frustrate the militarists, and who have cracked the data banks of NASA, CERN, and CEA. Will plagues of computer viruses originating with such groups and lone wolves become so epidemic that the police will arrest the "Computer Hacker Profile" on sight?
Marx' behavior, the Prosecutor will say, has been continuously suspicious, and should be taken as evidence of illegality. Marx will reply, do not millions of businessmen conduct their affairs paying deference to the irrelevant rituals, customs, idiosyncrasies, fads, eccentricities, irregularities, unconventionalities, quirks, twists, kinky horns, and wackiness of their counterparts? So if he must carry a shopping bag, meet at unconventional places, wear casual dress, and use the risqué language of forbidden intelligence with the Russians -- all of these do not add up to his engaging in a conspiracy to commit espionage. But maybe the judges cannot abide such play-acting with the "Hacker Profile" nudging their consciences.
Particularly in view of the scandals now erupting in Bern in the very offices of the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor's Office, the judges may feel that they should help the Prosecution to save face: to show the public and press and Marx himself that nobody can make a fool out of the authorities and get away with it. The Minister of Justice and Chief Prosecutor of Switzerland have resigned, under suspicion of having helped the banker husband of the Minister launder drug money introduced through a Lebanese mafia and of having obstructed police investigation. There is also the small matter of the murder of the Prosecutor's mistress.
Marx, in good form as the trial begins, tells the reporter of the newsmagazine L'Hebdo, "With the Kopp and Gerber affair, the confidence of the public in our institutions, especially in the Ministry of Justice, is at an all-time low. This is what makes my trial more pertinent and moving."
The little simple cynic in my brain laughs at all this and says, "Look, if Marx is acquitted, the Canton of Basle will have to pay to him thousands of francs in damages according to Swiss law. Get smart! We are talking about Swiss francs, not rupees." I may witness once again how a well-intentioned law can promote injustice.
Nonetheless, despite such forebodings, when the morning of the trial dawns, I eat a hearty breakfast, buckle on my best suit, get into the comfortable station wagon of my friends and wife, and charge off to the Tribunal of Basle.
The Court is a remodelled room in an old grey stone building. About fifty persons might sit in the fixed chairs, facing toward the operative set-up at the front end. The setting is clean, neat, functional. It much resembles a typical American college classroom. The windows are large and the light of the sky pours in.
The only officer of the court is a dark stalwart chap who only gradually unfroze his face in recognition of me as the trial wore on. He wears a midnight blue worsted suit, carries no badge or weapon. He opens doors and windows (promptly after every intermission is called) and closes them.
No one wears a uniform or badge, whether inside or outside the courtroom and courthouse. No Bible is to be seen; no one swears an oath to tell the truth; still, the atmosphere conveys a sense of truth-telling (but, of course, clever lying does convey a sense of truth-telling).
At seven minutes past eight the Court is called to order. Present: three judges, a court secretary, the bailiff, two newspaper reporters, and several friends of the defendant. The defendant sits before the panel of judges on a chair. Behind him his attorney, an old friend, a well-known Basle burger, Georges Bollag. He is eighty years old, or will be in four months, a sturdy type, who was General Counsel for the department store, Migros, and at the same time handled in private practice some 2000 divorces (what a wealth of case histories neatly stacked in his offices!), and he litigated, too, the case of the Suez Canal Company versus Egypt as well as other disputes in international law.
To Marx' left, alongside a lectern three meters away sits the Prosecuting Attorney, Fritz Feder, representing the Canton of Basle and indirectly the Prosecutors of the Federal Office at Bern who by now are in a state of subliminal hysteria over the scandals of protecting the international drug traffic and laundering its profits.
He tells me some of his feelings. He is a slight figure, balding, dark, clothed in dark grey, with a grim expression, all of which light up amiably when he smiles. He studied under the very Professor of Law who took up a position antagonistic to the Supreme Court in respect to enlarging the meaning of political and economic espionage. Moreover, he agrees with the Professor. The Supreme Court, he says, has actually and regrettably set very loose bounds to the definition of political and economic espionage. The present Court, and the Basel Cantonal Court of Appeals, cannot change this situation, but he feels that Marx could get financial aid if he were to lose, and thereafter appeal to the Supreme Court. As for himself, he must do his duty as Prosecutor.
(It strikes me now that the good Professor, by articulating sharply the broadly incriminating viewpoint of the Supreme Court, has actually made it all the more difficult to convince Prosecutors or the lower courts that they might be able to chip away at the precedents. That is, his clear critique has made it impossible to "misread" the position of the Supreme Court in a constructive and libertarian manner.)
The President of the Basle Court is a man of 38, reaching to six and a half feet tall, dressed soberly. His name is Jeffrey Robinson and he became Swiss by being raised in Basle while his British father worked for the Bank of International Settlements. Habeas Corpus and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, thought I, cannot be far from his considerations. To his left at the same bar sits Judge Number Two, an attractive woman of a certain age, dark, raven-haired, she reminds me strongly of Sylvia Bannerman, the weapons expert; she smiles often; at first I felt her smiling to be benign but it became more cryptic as the trial proceeded, I opened the door to let her pass once, and she smiled at me, benignly, the same smile. She wore a simple housewife's shopping clothes and was a bit down at the heel. I wanted to dress her up. Or down. Or undress her.
To the right of the President sat an older man. He is a lawyer, she is not. Like the others, he was popularly elected to his judgeship. He looks like an American or English schoolmaster. He intervenes with a brief question once in four days (she never does). The show is all up to Judge Robinson.
The Court is called to order late, as I said, seven minutes after the scheduled time of eight o'clock. (Thereafter, the Court reconvenes from recesses never more than five minutes late.) The President looks out over the courtroom and at the accused and says, "Well, for once we have an intelligent man in the dock, from whom we may expect proper answers." He reads the charges. Marx pleads not guilty.
The President turns to the several looseleaf volumes before him and begins to read off a number of police statements, concluding each with a question of Marx. He has apparently selected the most telling questions. Marx gives brief answers, usually agreeing that the police statement is correct. This goes on all day. And the next day as well. And most of the third day. On the morning of the fourth comes the judgement and its explanation by the President.
Marx wears sport clothes and moccasins, his everyday and Sunday attire. He has a rumpled look upon his first appearance. Strange for him, he comes on stage thereafter, day after day, dressed in the same costume, unwashed and wrinkled, ever more raunchy, until the judgement. Why would he let himself appear so, in a setting where he would be judged in part by his dress?
Was he making a mute protest against being compelled to appear, be questioned and be judged? And/or, might he have simply frozen into a defensive posture, a psychic covering? My mind went back nearly a half-century when as a young officer drilled to careful daily couture I would wonder at the many front-line soldiers who would not change their socks and clothing or wash or shave until they were relieved from the line or killed or hospitalized, arguing, if forced to clean themselves, that they were too cold, or they would be exposed to fire, or they had no time, or they were less filthy than others. And, as Bill Mauldin's cartoons of them portrayed, their sad condition was elevated to a proud fashion, like the stylites sitting atop columns until God called them down.
But nearer at hand was Marx' puzzling conduct during his weeks of imprisonment. He ate nothing but yoghurt for 51 days, explaining afterwards that it was a good time to diet, just as now he says that he failed to notice what he was wearing. It is a signal of steadfast resistance to the way in which the cards are being dealt to him.
Now the judgement of the Court is delivered, after which the Prosecutor arises and declares his wish to appeal. His request is automatically granted. Leaving the courtroom afterwards, he pauses by the little group around Marx. "I have no intention of pursuing the case," he declares. "It is the only way to get a written record of the Court's opinion. I will send you a copy." He does not wish to appear an ogre. And off he goes.
I suppose it is easier and less troublesome to leave trivial opinions unwritten, but it is a considerable mistake of policy. Not only for opinions but for proceedings as well; automatically, all hearings and judgements should be recorded and the parties to a case should receive free copies of the tape. The cost would be negligible. Instead, either the records are lost to all, or the costs of stenographically registered transcripts of proceedings are expensive. The same retarded behavior characterizes most of the world's courts.
So we are not in a court of record, despite its being a case of espionage. Ami sits next to me scribbling in English a summary of what is being said, translating from a combination of formal German (for the documents) and Swiss German (for the rest of the proceedings). I end up with forty pages of notes. The journalists take a few pages of notes. That is all.
Therefore I now have the only record of the case and of the reasoning of the Court behind the judgement. And here is the way it all went.
The charges are neatly written but put together harum-scarum, not according to Aristotelian or Boulean logic, so I would estimate them at a dozen, each a different crime of espionage, one would suppose, but they overlap and are not clear. To begin, a general accusation is levelled:
Marx has repeatedly transmitted political and economic information in violation of Article 272, Section 1, and Article 273, Section 1, of the Penal Code. (These say that you cannot give information to a foreign entity to the detriment of Switzerland: that's about the size of it. These provisions were criticized by me earlier in Chapter Four; significantly, the Prosecutor tells me that he was a student of Professor Dr. Stratenwerth, whom I quoted against the laws and the courts, and agrees with his old Professor.)
The charges portray a criminally prone background: After failing to advance himself professionally by manufacturing refrigerators and running a bookstore,Marx moved into the computer trade. He worked for different companies, but in the end came to depend upon his wife's job. His own enterprise, PAF Informatik AG, failed in November 1984. He continued under the name PAF Consultants, without any success.
Marx replies that the charges begin by slandering him.
My refrigerator-manufacturing enterprise in the 1950's was actually quite successful and then was sold and failed under the new owners. The bookstore failed because a system of customer profiles, called "Reader's Choice," that I had invented, was boycotted by the Union of Swiss Booksellers and Publishers, so that I could not find any German-language books to sell. From punched cards I moved readily into computer systems. I worked with several companies and designed retailing systems (which were ahead of their time) and publishing systems that were moderately successful. With my freedom and the help of my wife, I dedicated myself to what I consider to be my life's duty and main occupation, the reconstruction of natural and human history. I have furnished abundant proof of this, yet nowhere is this principal activity mentioned in the accusations against me. My goal was not, as alleged, solely to make money, and if generally I did not make much money, it was because I devoted myself heavily to scientific, intellectual and other useful activities.
Marx got the better of this first round. He, rather than the Prosecutor, had the floor to make the apologia pro sua vita. He spoke ill of no one. He talked in a quiet voice of a man who had always worked at useful enterprises but had never struck pay dirt. He fulfilled the image of what a workaday computer expert, a high-grade technician, might be like, a person of projects rather than a businessman.
Now the charges recite Marx' earlier relations with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals through whose good offices he met the Soviets Medvedev and Bouzanov, and through these met Piotr Potiondy and how they tried to buy a computer and software through him, but encountered an American boycott, and finally bought some simpler electronic equipment through him. His visits with Potiondy were numerous.
Marx replies that there was never anything secret or illegal about any of this. The round goes to him.
The charges allege that Marx did give much information to the Soviets and was paid regularly for it. He met forty times with Potiondy, four times with Touli Zabolouev, and ten times with Piotr Leonidov.
To which Marx replies that he never gave away any commercial secrets, did not work for any company, and was free to dispense any knowledge he had since it was his own. "Not more than 2% of all my time was given over in all to the affairs covered by the charges."
The Court deems it hardly worthwhile to try to discover what information was bought or exchanged. It is clear that the police and prosecution have produced almost nothing, perhaps really nothing, that can be exhibited at the trial in the way of information wrongfully imparted except a public list of persons attending a computer conference on artificial intelligence at Lugano and several check marks that denoted on the list persons whom the Soviets wished information on and which Marx claims that he never provided. There are, finally, several named individuals, and companies, about which Marx spoke to the Russians to help identify them and their activities, of which more below. But at this point we are pushed into the matter of Marx's finances.
The tax authorities, the police, the Prosecution and now the Court labored mightily in the Augean Stables of Marx' finances, lacking a Hercules to divert the Rhine River to cleanse the mess.
The tax office had taken first crack at him because he had not reported the money that the Russians had paid him. Moreover, the payments were all in cash. In America he would be in danger of prison. In Switzerland tax evasion is not a crime but subjects a culpable tax dodger to heavy fines.
Marx claims that the receipts were used for business purposes, including his historical interests (because he was trying to earn income through them). Anyhow, the tax office took its bite, to the tune of FS 100,000.00, which, of course, he has no means of paying. So the tax guys stand off-stage waiting for him to earn money.
Having secured his tax flank, Marx presents the criminal Court with one more accounting sheet. This is juggled to show that he received SF 394,464 from the Russians, paid out in costs of equipment SF 363,375 and gave them SF 111,089 in consulting services. The difference in costs, so to speak, and receipts acknowledged, came to SF 80,000 which is what, you will recall, Marx was trying to dun the Soviets for, at the moment of his arrest. His travel and overhead costs were high and ate deeply into his receipts. He got from the Russians and paid to the English Turing Institute alone a membership fee of 8500 Pounds Sterling; he had hoped to inform the Russians better on artificial intelligence and to use on some of his own projects the information and skills imparted at the Institute.
The Judge is perplexed: "This is all very complicated. I don't mean that it is illegal. I mean just practically." And, "Were you so much in the Velikovsky clouds that you couldn't be practical or suspicious about the Russians? Or were they just milch-cows to you?" And again, "You gave them a flow of harmless material to keep the flow of money coming in." Responds Marx, "I gave them whatever I had."
The Chief Judge is not at all pleased with the state of the evidence, years of surveillance, eavesdropping, bugging, photographing, confiscation of records and files: and with all of this, there's damnably little evidence! And it was worse before, when the Federal Prosecutor had arrived at a flamboyant "Hope List" that it had transmitted to the Basle Prosecutors, who had then cut it down to the present picayune charges. Says the Judge, "There was a lot of flesh on these bones originally, but it was loose and fell off. What we have in the way of charges now is a skeleton."
When I hear this, I begin to have hopes for Marx.
Now, more specifically, Marx is alleged to have given over to Soviet agents a preliminary, and then a final list of participants in an international conference on artificial intelligence held at Lugano, Switzerland in 1985.
Marx does not deny this. He declares that the list is public information, available to the whole world, and that "the Vice Chairman of the Board of the international IFAC-Company, which organized the 1985 Conference at Lugano, is a Russian, Dr. V.I.Utkin, of the Institute of Control Sciences, Moscow. At least one member from the Eastern Bloc (Mr. Yalumov) attended this conference. This list, which I merely joined to my documents about my activities, cannot be considered forbidden intelligence."
Now Dr. Bollag, Attorney for the Defense, introduces a computer expert to testify, Professor Franz Schneider of the Zurich Polytechnic (where a student named Albert Einstein, by the way, was told by his Professor in Experimental Physics, " this is the worst class in the University and you are its worst student" ); Schneider is President of SGAICO, the Swiss artificial intelligence association of several hundred members that played host to the conference at Lugano.
The President asks him to explain Artificial Intelligence, and, having been enlightened, elicits the following from the witness: a. The U.S.A. is investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence. b. The U.S.S.R. is far behind in the computer sciences. c. Anyone can join SGAICO, and enjoy its modest privileges: contacts, conferences, literature, surveys of the membership, and a newsletter. d. No distinctions are made between members from East and West. e. The group has discussed holding conferences in the Redlands but the facilities there are inadequate and the American members are reluctant to go (most are supported by government funds and their sponsors are reluctant to go East). f. A Swiss company owned by the Soviets would have no difficulty becoming a corporate member. (This goes directly to Marx' interest in creating a company that would be partially owned by the USSR -- to be revealed below.)
The President asks the Professor his opinion of the case lately conveyed by the newspapers, of computer espionage by a German group pilfering American and German data banks. The Professor is not familiar with the case, and will not comment.
The witness is excused and the Prosecutor arises, to say grumpily, "This testimony is all useless. We could have done without the witness."
Marx wins the round handily.
The President now asks about persons whose profiles Marx is said to have supplied to the Soviets. The charge reads that Marx in 1984 gave Potiondy the name and address of an expert in Chinese. Big deal! Marx of course responds that there was no reason to refuse the name of a reputable sinologist. Marx was a member of the Switzerland-China Chamber of Commerce, all the more reason to promote interchanges all-around. The President wastes no more time on this one. He questions him about the computer specialist, Frank Huserer.
You agree that you gave a memorandum on his personal background to the Russians? Yes, and I did ask Huserer about himself to fill out some details. Huserer was working with me and he might conceivably want to be involved with the Russians through me or directly. I had to give information about people I knew because I wanted to sell the Russians shares in a company with which these people were concerned.
Marx' Attorney now calls up as his witness Frank Huserer of the Institute of Informatics at the Zurich Technical University. He is a handsome, blonde, curly-headed young man, cheerful, of trustworthy appearance and casual dress. Huserer, it develops: a. Had no interest in Marx' theories of quantavolution and Velikovsky. (The Judge confesses he has not been able to make much out of his delving into the Velikovsky materials.) b. Worked with Marx on various projects for which he was sometimes paid or reimbursed for expenses, and sometimes not. c. Put together and conducted a survey to profile the traits and opinions of participants at the Artificial Intelligence Conference at Lugano, together with Marx, partly for an article he had been commissioned to do for the Basler Zeitung that would defray his expenses. (This was, in my opinion a shoddy scientific job, incomplete, superficial, but better than nothing.) d. Had he known that Marx would give information about him to the Russians, he would not have minded. "I never felt that he was nosy." e. Believed that the Russians were welcome in Swiss computer circles and could get at whatever anyone else could have. "Scientists are very open, never say 'no' to copying this or that..Of course there are individual exceptions." f. "Would have given our report on the EUREX project to anybody or distributed it at a conference. True, the project was puffed up to attract investors." Yet the project was significant and valuable. Its central idea of assembling materials from several data banks and analyzing them by artificial intelligence for conformities and discrepancies was important. (It would seem that Huserer was not so familiar as I with the fact that this konzept was first fashioned and applied to ancient Egyptian chronology and then to Mesopotamian history by Marx; you will recall how skeptical I was of it and of some of the pretensions of artificial intelligence as a whole. A propos political and economic (and military) intelligence, the issues and problems are simpler and EUREX would be much more possible; the data of Egyptian history is paltry compared with the data available to intelligence analysts.
(My mind goes back as far as half a century to when Brother Marcus compared the output of Berlin and Rome radios to discover whether the Nazis and Fascists were coordinating their propaganda -- and by implication their allied war effort -- the answer emerging that they were not, a useful discovery arrived at by means infinitely more laborious than would be possible by computers today.)
Any questions, asks the President.
The Prosecutor arises to address the witness: "You are Dutch. When did you become a Swiss resident?"
(Note the classic patrimaniac implication against a "foreigner" and also possibly a hidden threat of deportation.)
Answer of Huserer: "I always was. I came into Switzerland with my parents, as a child."
Zounds! Foiled again!
Dr. Bollag rises to address the Court: "I wish to go on record with the fact that the police arrested the witness for interrogation and warned him against talking to the Russians and told him to be on guard against them."
Witness: "Yes. I was intimidated by them at first. The police think that they should protect scientists from being too free and open."
Another round won by the defense.
The main avenue of attack left open to the Prosecution is now to show that Marx organized a company in which the Soviets would buy shares and he would gather political and economic intelligence and siphon it to them.
The charge goes thus:
Marx tried to create an expert-system (AI) which he called EUREX for Eureka Research Expert System to retrieve data from numerous data banks around the world... He created a company in June 1985 that he called Biocare AG, `to promote services and commercial exploitation of products in the fields of informatics and biotechnology', whose Chairman he was, and whose purpose was the realization of the EUREX system.
In need of investment for his project, he contacted Potiondy and offered to sell the Soviets shares in the Company. In order to promote their confidence in the project, he extolled the possibility of enlisting the cooperation of computer experts from the Swiss Technical Institute, The University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the Turing Institute in Glasgow, and the English Company, System Designers International.
In April 1986 he offered to sell Potiondy shares in Biocare AG to the amount of SF 40,000.00.
In July 1986 he met with Zabalouev at the Solothurn Cathedral and told him that the Digital Equipment Corporation was willing to invest 1.5 man/years in research time in the EUREX project, and that a participation by Hoffmann - Laroche pharmaceuticals was under continuous discussion.
On November 19, 1986 the accused met with Leonidov in Baden, Germany, reporting to him that the EUREX project was ready to start up. Leonidov told him that they had no interest in it. In March 1987 he met Leonidov again at the Conference Hall of Biel to try again to interest him in the EUREX project, without success. In a complementary description of the project, he stressed that the user of a fully operational EUREX system would be able `to access and evaluate globally all accessible data and knowledge banks as if they were a single unified information system.'
Marx admitted to all of this, except the implication that it was forbidden political and economic intelligence transmission. The EUREX system in itself (which I should stress was still a will-o'-the-wisp) could not be, and was not regarded by the Federal Prosecutor, as a forbidden activity. But the Basle Prosecutor, without any idea of informatics, stuck in the charge. So says Marx. Furthermore, Marx could demonstrate that the Soviets were being asked to buy only a fraction of shares of non-voting stock in the Company and that he, Marx, would always remain in control.
The Prosecutor declares, in the end, that "The research, the preparation, and the attempt at transmitting information, whether or not it was secret and even if nothing arrived at a foreign destination, are enough to amount to a violation of the law and were damaging to the Swiss people. The law is very strong on this." (You see? He is actually quoting his old Professor on the strength of the unjust loose law, whereas, if it had not been for the old Professor attacking the law and driving it into a corner, so to speak, the Prosecutor would himself be less clear about its unclarity and less ready to defend it and so would the Judge.)
The Prosecutor has one more set of charges circling around, a combination of behaviors that he considers in some way to be criminal. You know about most of them. The Penal Code does not actually forbid any of them; still... 1. Marx meets the Russians in strange places, like a cathedral or a German spa. 2. He takes money from them in strange places, like $98,000.00 in cash in hundred dollar bills on the train between Brück and Basle. 3. He is offered a spy-radio with a gismo for contacting the Russian HQ. 4. He is given secret passwords to recognize and be recognized by Soviet agents, like Marx should say, "Do I know you from Los Alamos?" and the Russian spy is supposed to answer "No, I know you from Rueschlikon." 5. He is instructed to put secret messages in the newspaper want-ad columns concerning a used car for sale, with a system for a false date and time standing for a real date and time. 6. He is asked to carry his Coop shopping bag with him for identification purposes. 7. He is always paid in cash francs or dollars or pounds. 8. He is asked to sign blank receipts when he is handed money.
As it happens, all of these oddities are known because Marx revealed them to the police during the interrogations. Without any torture or "third degree" methods or even discomfort or hunger. Nor is there evidence that they were employed for transmitting illegally information. And it was admitted in the court by Prosecutor and Judge that nothing of value was transferred into Russian hands, eyes, ears, nose or throat. The most that could be said was that the Russian spies, as defined by tactics that any eight-year old boy knows all about, received an expensive peripatetic course in the introduction to computer science and data systems, conducted in various locations. They would have done better to sign up for adult education classes for a few francs. Granted it would have been less fun.
But, then, isn't that the way of the world? Some of my friends have made their fortunes by holding the hands of the rich or other persons in high positions and muttering commonplaces of economics, politics, technology and management strategy into their ears. If it makes them feel good and they can afford it, why not?
Nevertheless, I feel that this round could be lost to Marx for it gave the impression that he was hitting below the belt.
The morning of decision arrives. The Clerk declares the verdict and the Presiding Judge gives his lengthy opinion in the case. Marx has been awarded most of the rounds of the case but has lost the verdict.
He is found guilty on two counts of transmitting economic information; he is acquitted on the rest of the economic espionage allegations and all of the political espionage charges. The sentence is 45 days in jail and two years'probation. But since Marx has already served 51 days in jail upon arrest and has been under surveillance for two years, there is nothing left of the sentence.
In fact, the Canton of Basle would appear to owe Marx damage for six too many days in jail. Perhaps the Judges had these days in mind when they also fined the Defendant court costs of 3000 Swiss Francs, the ostensible reason being that he had provoked the police and prosecution into costly efforts by acting in a suspicious manner. (No one asked why the police, when first informed of such behavior four years earlier, had not advised Marx to change his behavior or at least his behavioral pattern.)
The two criminal incidents are termed by the Presiding Judge "bagatellen." Actually it is still uncertain what they were. As far as we could make out, Marx should not have said to the Soviet representative that he had been promised some support from the Digital Equipment Corporation for his EUREX system or that he had the collaboration of the expert, Dr. Max Apfelgarth ( because, as the Court said, although Marx had enjoyed such support earlier, Dr. Apfelgarth had changed his mind about Marx and the project) Somehow there was a crime involved in these items of misinformation being transmitted to the Soviets, although it was the Soviets and these parties that were being "hurt" and hardly or most remotely the Swiss people.
The Press took off after the word "bagatelle." The magazine Blick headlined "45 Days for Bagatelle Offenses: The Basler Computer Expert Marx is no `Soviet Spy.'" The Basler Zeitung, the Tages-Anzeiger, the Neüe Zürcher Zeitung, and the news services carried by the computer data banks, all glommed onto the word "Bagatellen". We might as well have our fun with the word, too.
It originates in Italy, "bagatella," a trifle, a little dance, spread to France as a little fun-house, and then to the rest of Europe. So the case that began with the portentous announcement of the Swiss Ministry of Justice, Office of the Public Prosecutor, that they had "cracked the biggest case of espionage in many years" came down to a nit-picking, shallow, small-time, trifling quiddity, a tuppeny, farcical, piffling, paltry, inconsequential, unsubstantial peccadillo, a mean, insignificant whit of a venial sin, minuscule la-di-da, mere chicken-feed.
Everyone seemed to be pleased with the judgement except me. I congratulate Dr. Bollag, "It's the best that could be done;" he understands what I mean to say. What had seemed to be shaping up as a process that would contradict my fears, and give the lie to most of what I've belabored in this book, has in reality and in the end confirmed it all. Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding the trial affirmed the presence of pandemic, paranoid patrimania, a low-grade infection, to be sure.
According to homo schizo theory, both the good and the bad of humans come from the same source, our divided head and our two or more selves, that spark continuously, irrelevantly and irreverently instead of tending to business like a true animal instinctive brain should. Armed with this theory, I do not beat an ignominious retreat in the face of the impressive trial; I do not abandon all thoughts of pandemic paranoid patrimania. I knew what I was in for: the Swiss are masters of the art of appearing calm and rational. It comes from being poker-faced bankers, from tending smoothed-faced cows, from waiting for a chemistry tube to boil, from watching patiently for a tourist to climb ten thousand feet to your chalet for bed and breakfast, or from all four causes.
I have come this far and I shall not quit. I am going to psyche-out the process, get under it and behind it. It cannot be what it looked like to begin with, this trial, a square deal, a rational inquisition. And it ain't.
I beg you note this well: Practically everyone connected with the case could feel justified because Christoph Marx was condemned, no matter how mildly, as a kind of Soviet spy. So, the foolish, stupid, childish games that were played by a hundred people were pronounced to be sober, intelligent, responsible and adult, and everyone could even say that Marx had gotten off easily, that espionage measures needed tightening -- more police, more bugging, more informants, more interrogations, more surveillance and indoctrination of educators and scientists -- of the press, too -- on the threat to, threat to, threat to Helvetia, coming out of those creeps in our midst who are shaking hands with pestiferous outsiders.
The judicial system produced a farce, as the newspapers agreed. The judges had to find Marx guilty of something. Else the whole political, police, juridical, correctional system would appear to crumble. Every kind of pressure was mildly but perceptibly put upon the judges, except the weight of evidence, to find Marx guilty. It is to Judge Robinson's credit that he did so poor a job of rationalizing the verdict; it showed him to be an honest man.
It is unimaginable that Marx or anybody else would be tried and convicted in a similar case were the foreign power or company to be involved American or some entity other than from the Redlands. It was, therefore, a political process, trial, and judgement, mitigated by the nice guys of Switzerland and the niceties of its civilized way of life.
If you want to reverse the order of business, you can prepare a list of charges against the system in the Marx affair, and put the system on trial. These charges are much more important than the charges levelled against Marx. Instead of counting their small winnings, the police, prosecutors, judges, press, parliament and public should be forlornly contemplating charges against themselves:
1. No right or privilege of habeas corpus was granted the arrested man. 2. He was not permitted to call home or engage an attorney. 3. He had no right to refuse to testify against himself. 4. The Prosecutors and the Courts overtly and covertly protected the police in their excesses and errors. 5. The accused, in addition to everything else, is told that it is a crime to behave suspiciously. 6. The strategy of the trial is governed by the police and prosecution, with the defense put at a considerable disadvantage. 7. Friends and associates of the suspect are intimidated. 8. The legal code contains laws, in these most critical areas of penal law, that are sheer nonsense. 9. The Prosecution and Court protects the widespread use by the police of eavesdropping on suspicion, and will not insist that the extent of the bugging be revealed to the defendant or in public at the trial. 10. The agents of friendly foreign powers such as the U.S.A. are given an informal privileged status in overt and covert operations in Switzerland, and are let to escape investigation and criminal prosecution. 11. Contacts of all types with the Redlands are discouraged and even made a matter of police record, despite their being almost entirely "free" under Swiss law. 12. Partly because of its own indolence, but mainly because of the laws and tradition, the Swiss press did not find out about the Marx arrest until he was released or at least was prohibited from mentioning it in print. The whole nation might be taken over instantly without a peep from the media. The Marx affair, I would say, was a poor show for Switzerland. Of Marx himself, there is little more to be said here. He is not to be put down.
Afterwards, the same day, we take leave of him in his computer-cluttered bachelor office-home, without having spilled a drop of coffee on any electronic equipment. He is already busy. He still has his part-time job teaching computer systems to teachers; it is a matter of push-and-pull whether he will keep his job -- the righteous against the progressives.
We have hardly opened the shutters at our house back South in Saint-Martian when mail from Marx arrives. He has addressed a memo to the Swiss Parliament contrasting the scandals besetting the Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Justice with the systematic injustices done the powerless and poor. He has scraped together a few francs, probably from his cousin, and is launching two computer on-line publishing ventures, the one providing a public forum for citizens who cannot get their disputatious letters into the newspapers and other media, the other offering documents and computer-conferencing on Historical Reconstruction and Quantavolution.
Then -- wouldn't you guess it? -- he has amplified and resubmitted his old bill to the Soviet Embassy, adding to the original account of SF 80,000.00, SF 9,888.00 in interest on the unpaid sum at 6%, and SF 25,000.00 that he asks them to contribute to the costs of the trial; it was from following their will and whims that he got into trouble. It comes now to SF 114,888. Please remit, danke.
Remember, finally, Gesellschaft für die Rekonstruktion der Menschheit- und Naturgeschichte, GRMNG. Letting no foe escape unscathed, he revives GRMNG, yes, the organization that the Germans thought they had effectively dissolved. It is all his now, a spectre to haunt them. A membership drive is launched; participation by members in the above-mentioned on-line programs is planned; and the Newsletter will resume its guiding and informing role, computer-produced, natürlich.