– More than 100 countries have purchased encryption devices from the company that can read what they encrypted freely
A Swiss parliamentary investigation revealed that the Swiss intelligence service was aware of, and even benefited from, the involvement of Crypto, based in the Swiss city of Zug, in espionage operations led by the United States of America in cooperation with Germany, which spanned several decades.
According to the results of the 9-month investigation conducted by the Swiss Parliamentary Audit Committee and published last Tuesday, the Swiss Intelligence Service was aware that the CIA had been behind Crypto, a Swiss-based company since 1993.
The report stated that the Swiss intelligence service cooperated with “Crypto” later to collect information from foreign sources.
The parliamentary audit committee’s investigations began after the Swiss public television channel (SRF), the German TV channel (ZDF) and the Washington Post revealed that “Crypto” was involved in a huge international espionage operation led by the CIA. German intelligence service (BND).
More than 100 countries around the world bought encryption devices made by the Crypto AG company, which is based in its marriage, and which was operating under the guise of Swiss neutrality. What those devices encrypted completely freely, and that information that was intercepted with the help of “Crypto” devices changed the course of events, including the hostage case in Iran in 1979.
Crypto has never provided encryption devices to the Swiss authorities. Nevertheless, Switzerland has benefited from the eavesdropping provided by these devices, according to the report.
A member of the Parliamentary Committee, Philip Bauer, who is leading the investigation, said, “This was a service to our country, particularly in the case of the hostages in Libya.”
The investigation sought to determine who and when members of the Swiss government knew of the case, and as part of the investigation, the commission examined how the Swiss intelligence service and foreign intelligence services, given the political importance, were able to jointly use a Swiss-based company without the knowledge of Parliament.
“This cooperation, which could have been hidden from the government for a long time, also highlights the shortcomings in management and supervision exercised by the latter,” the report states. Therefore, the highest authority in Switzerland bears some responsibility for Crypto’s activities.
The report also criticized the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs’s decision to cancel the export license for Crypto International, which currently owns the Crypto Company under investigation, which is a computer security company owned by Sweden and headquartered in Zug, and it has no relations – as it is said – with foreign intelligence services. Due to the ban, the Swedish company was forced to reduce its activities in Switzerland.
The Swiss Public Prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings against “Crypto International” last June, regarding wrong or incomplete information in its export applications that was submitted to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
The secretariat, which is the authority responsible for licensing exports of military equipment, among other responsibilities, believes that the Zug-based company misled it when it placed export orders for its equipment.
As for the Parliamentary Audit Committee, it found that the criminal complaint had no legal basis, and recommended that the government re-examine the suspended export licenses and withdraw the criminal complaint.
Conduct of the Banana Republic
It was only in the fall of 2019 that the current Swiss government ministers were informed of the issue, a few months before the public German television channel published its report.
Many Swiss politicians responded to the results of the investigation, calling for more steps to be taken to understand the full extent of the relationship between the Swiss intelligence service, “Crypto” services, and the CIA. “This behavior of the banana republic is not befitting of a state of law, and it should have political and personal consequences,” said Baltazar Glattli of the Green Party.
Of particular concern is the fact that the files were destroyed by people in the Swiss Ministry of Defense between 2011 and 2014.