“The intelligence coup of the century” … an investigation that reveals the spying of American and German intelligence on 100 countries


Published in :
Wednesday 12 February 2020 – 12:10 PM
| Last updated :
Wednesday 12 February 2020 – 12:39 PM

– American and German intelligence spied on more than 100 countries through a Swiss company specialized in encrypting communications … Russia and China did not use Crypto devices
– Spying on Sadat’s contacts … Observing the hostage-taking crisis in the American embassy in Tehran … providing Britain with information about the Argentine army … evidence of Libyas involvement in the bombing of a cabaret in Berlin …

A large investigation revealed to Western media yesterday, Tuesday, that the CIA and the German Intelligence Agency spied on more than 100 countries through equipment belonging to a Swiss company specialized in encrypting communications, which they secretly owned.

The American newspaper “Washington Post” described the matter as “the intelligence coup of the century” and one of the most hidden secrets of the Cold War.

The investigation, prepared by the “Washington Post” in cooperation with the German television “ZDF” and the Swiss radio and television station “SRF”, stated that in 1970 the CIA bought the Swiss crypto company “Crypto AG” (based in Zug) in The framework of a “highly classified partnership” with the German intelligence service “BND” through an institution registered in the Principality of Liechtenstein, which provides tax havens.

The “Washington Post” that the founder of the company is the Russian inventor Boris Haglin, explaining that he was able to manufacture a portable encoder when he fled to the United States after the Nazi occupation of Norway in the 1940s, when small devices were distributed to 140 thousand American soldiers on the battlefields.

The newspaper pointed out that after the end of World War II, Hagelin moved to Switzerland, and his technology became so advanced that the United States feared that it would prevent it from spying on other governments.

“But decoding expert William Friedman persuaded Hagelin not to sell his more sophisticated machines except to countries that are approved by the United States. As for the old machines that American intelligence can decode, they are sold to the rest of the governments,” the newspaper said.

After World War II, Crypto AG was the top selling mobile encryption equipment, and it sold equipment “millions of dollars” to more than 120 countries around the world including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Turkey and Iran, according to the Washington Post.

The equipment that was sold to US allies was kept encrypted, and aside from it, US agents were able to decode it.

The American and German intelligence agencies “manipulated the company’s equipment in order to decipher the countries that were used to direct their encrypted messages”, and in this way we were able to monitor the hostage-taking crisis at the American embassy in Tehran in 1979, and provide Britain with information about the Argentine army during the Falkland Islands war , And follow-up assassination campaigns in Latin America.

This mechanism allowed the CIA to possess evidence of Libyan involvement in the 1986 bombing of a nightclub in West Berlin, which killed two American soldiers.

According to the “Washington Post”, the US National Security Agency was secretly monitoring the late President Anwar Sadat’s contacts with Cairo during the peace negotiations that brought him together with leaders of Israel and the United States at Camp David in 1978.

Secret reports in the CIA archive indicate that in the 1980s, the percentage of foreign contacts that the CIA acquired from Crypto devices reached 40% of all communications.

A 2004 CIA report, seen by the investigators, said that the operation called “Tezoros” and then “Rubicon” was a “blow of the century” on the intelligence front.

“The CIA report stated that” foreign governments were paying large amounts of money to the United States and West Germany in exchange for the encryption privilege, but they were in fact paying for the acquaintance of at least two foreign countries and sometimes up to 5 or 6 countries about their most secret communications, “in reference To their alliance with British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand intelligence.

For decades, workers in the (American and West German) intelligence services have heard and seen hundreds of thousands of messages exchanged between governments, embassies, and military leaders around the world.

As of 1970, the CIA and the National Security Agency “monitor virtually all Crypto operations” and make decisions regarding employment, technology, algorithm manipulation, and targeting of buyers. ”

However, the program did not allow spying on major opponents of the United States, especially the Soviet Union and China, because they did not deal with “Crypto”.

In 1993, BND sold its stake in Crypto, for fear that Washington would not be spying on its opponents and that this would be withdrawn from its allies. Later, advances in cryptography allowed the CIA to abandon the company in 2018.

After the sale of the company, it was divided into two units, the first working for the benefit of the Swiss government and the second in charge of international business operations.

In response to a question by Agence France-Presse, the CIA confirmed that it was “aware” of this investigation, without making any official comments about its operations.

For his part, former coordinator of German intelligence Brend Schmidbauer told German television “ZDF” that “Rubicon” was indeed an intelligence operation, noting that it had contributed to “making the world safer.”

In Bern, the Swiss government opened an investigation into reports that Crypto had been secretly owned by the CIA and German intelligence for decades.

According to the investigation, Crypto had two types of encryption products: one completely safe and the other not guaranteed. Switzerland was one of the few countries to provide the safe version.

The “Rundschau” news program broadcast by the German-speaking Swiss television channel SRF, reported that the Ministry of Defense first briefed the government on this issue last November. The government opened a formal investigation after it met on January 15.

And the Swedish company, “Crypto International”, which bought “Crypto AG” that the investigation “raises concern,” denying the existence of “any link with the CIA and the German intelligence service.”

Last December, the Swiss authorities suspended a general import license that they had granted to the two companies that inherited “Crypto AG” “pending the submission of the necessary clarifications.”

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