An explosive US news report says the Americans and Germans used their control of a Swiss firm selling encryption devices to spy on both allies and rivals for decades. India and Pakistan were among the firm’s clients.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and dozens of other nations bought Swiss encryption equipment without suspecting that foreign spies, including CIA agents, would have access to their secrets, an explosive US news report says.
A recently-dissolved Swiss firm, Crypto AG, was clandestinely owned by the CIA and Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) during a five-decade intelligence coup that brought them both money and valuable information, according to the Washington Post. (The Germans pulled out in the 90s.)
Switzerland now says it is investigating Crypto’s reported links with American and German intelligence, according to Reuters.
WIDE CLIENT BASE, BUT NO RUSSIA OR CHINA
The Post’s article, based on intelligence files and interviews, doesn’t give specifics about spying operations targeting India or Pakistan — if any. But it lists others. For example, spies “caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco”.
A map published with the article (see tweet below) shows how widely spread Crypto AG’s client base was, covering every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
The CIA — in partnership with West German intelligence — secretly owned a Swiss company, Crypto AG, that sold rigged encryption devices to 120 countries. https://t.co/PIJccWpkBK pic.twitter.com/PA1Q6syuCK
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 11, 2020
But there are notable absentees. Russia and China, for instance.
The Post explains:
“America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. Their well-founded suspicions of the company’s ties to the West shielded them from exposure, although the CIA history suggests that US spies learned a great deal by monitoring other countries’ interactions with Moscow and Beijing.”
The story didn’t escape the notice of US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, who lives in asylum in Russia.
Reporters following up on this story should look at the burning question @WashingtonPost inexplicably failed to raise: how the IC transitioned from subverting crypto via foreign cut-outs to corrupting domestic companies like RSA (https://t.co/feAH0oAAOR) (and through them NIST). https://t.co/v4MOAhqQjP
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 11, 2020
The beneficiaries of the spying operation were not limited to the US and Germany.
“The records show that at least four countries — Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — were aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany,” the Post reports.
Source: India Today