Published: Thu, February 13, 2020
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

US, German spies plundered global secrets through encryption firm, says Swiss govt

US, German spies plundered global secrets through encryption firm, says Swiss govt

The company that sold rigged encryption systems to countries worldwide was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence, The Washington Post reveals in a new article.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its operations have always been a mystery to the world, but the intelligence agency has been subjected to many controversies over the years.

While the incriminating report names India as one of Crypto AG's clients, it is yet not clear as to what extent the Indian messages were read the by Central Intelligence Agency.

The report said at least four countries - Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain - may have been aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany. "Foreign governments were paying good money to the US and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries".

Crypto AG, a Swiss company that dominated the global manufacture and sale of encryption devices for decades after WWII, was a CIA-owned concern. They described a Cold War-era caper in which American spymasters and counterparts from what was then West Germany from 1970 were responsible for almost all Crypto AG operations, from hiring and firing to sales tactics.

Countries that were being spied by the US and West Germany through Crypto AG
Countries that were being spied by the US and West Germany through Crypto AG

The CIA and BND reportedly controlled the company together for two decades but the latter sold its share fearing exposure.

The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for US troops during World War II.

The company, called Crypto AG, sold code-making equipment to Iran, India, Pakistan, Latin American nations and dozens of other countries. After that, the USA and West German spies just sat back and listened. "If what you are saying is true, then absolutely I feel betrayed, and my family feels betrayed, and I feel there will be a lot of employees who will feel betrayed as well as customers", Andreas Linde, the chairman of the company that now holds the rights to Crypto's global products and business, told The Post.

"The events in question began in 1945 and are hard to reconstruct and interpret today", Bohren said. "Nigeria bought a large shipment of Crypto machines, but 2 years later, when there was still no corresponding payoff in intelligence, a company representative was sent to investigate", it said. The company was now under new ownership and had no connections to the CIA or German spy agency, it said.

CyOne Security said it was an independent entity, supplying security solutions to the Swiss public sector and had no links to espionage. The country's Federal Council tasked Niklaus Oberholzer, who was a federal judge until the end of 2019, on 15 January to probe the matter.

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