In the field of encryption, the Swiss company Crypto AG was a prominent leader. After having worked in the communications of the American army during World War II, more than 120 countries entrusted him with the communications of spies, diplomats and military. This company was in charge of ensuring that these confidential communications remained completely secret and secure. However, an investigation led by the American daily The Washington Post reveals that for decades the American intelligence agency CIA and the German counterpart BND had privileged access to all this information that should have remained secret.
O The Washington Post and the German public broadcaster ZDF consulted confidential documentation which details how these intelligence agencies consulted and used secret information from other states to their advantage – without ever revealing which 120 countries were affected.
Through a secret transaction carried out in the 1970s, the CIA acquired – as part of a “highly confidential partnership” with the German BND service – Crypto AG, taking control of all decisions made by the company. The investigation advances that CIA and the now defunct BND “manipulated the company’s equipment so that they could easily decipher the codes that the countries [clientes da Crypto AG] used to send encrypted messages ”.
This operation was initially named after Thesaurus and then Rubicon. “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” concludes the CIA report cited by The Washington Post. Through the control of Crypto AG, the CIA and BND were able, for example, to monitor the hostage crisis at the United States Embassy in Tehran (Iran) in 1979, provide information about the Argentine army to the United Kingdom during the Falklands War (in 1982), follow the murder campaigns of South American dictators and intercept messages of rejoicing from Libyan officials after an attack on a nightclub in West Berlin in 1986 that killed two American soldiers, specifies the article published by the American newspaper.
Despite the many communications they were able to access, two of the United States’ biggest rivals, the Soviet Union and China, were never customers of Crypto AG, with their communications being out of reach of these agencies. According to Washington Post, both nations suspected that the Swiss company had close ties to the United States, moving away from the services provided by Crypto AG as a form of protection.
“Foreign governments paid a lot of money to the United States and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications analyzed by at least two countries,” continues the 2004 report that summarizes the espionage operation set up by the US intelligence agency. American.
In the early 1990s, the BND considered that the risk of exposure had become too great, moving away from the project set up with the CIA. In turn, the American counterpart bought the German stake in Crypto AG, continuing to monitor communications made by countries that used the services of the Swiss company. O The Washington Post says the CIA only abandoned the project in 2018, selling the assets of the company it still owned.
Neither the CIA nor the BND wanted to comment on the content of the journalistic investigation, but did not deny the authenticity of the documents consulted, reports the The Washington Post. The Swedish company Crypto International, which bought Crypto AG, admitted that this journalistic investigation was “very alarming”, ensuring, however, that the current company “has no connection with the CIA or the BND”.
Swiss authorities have opened an investigation into this case. With Lusa