CIA Spied On Encrypted Communications Of Allies And Adversaries For Decades Through A Swiss Company It Secretly Owned, Crypto AG

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
CIA
The CIA spied on global communications through a Swiss hardware and software encryption manufacturer the intelligence agency secretly owned. Incoming Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel stands for the national anthem during her swearing-in ceremony at CIA Headquarters, Monday, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. Image: AP Photo/Evan Vucci/ Photo by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spied on global communications through a Swiss company, Crypto AG, a hardware and software encryption manufacturer it secretly owned together with Germany’s intelligence agency.

A recent expose by The Washington Post showed that Crypto AG provided encryption services to more than 100 governments worldwide for decades and shared the information with the CIA, compromising the integrity of high-level internal government correspondence.

Some of the countries affected include Venezuela, Egypt and France, among many others. The CIA had rigged and built backdoors in almost all the encryption devices, according to the expose.

None of Crypto AG’s clients, who transacted with the company for more than half a decade, ever knew that it was secretly owned by the CIA or had any links to the U.S. intelligence agency.

Switzerland, a country that is known for its neutrality in global affairs, filed a complaint against the CIA’s alleged involvement in the tapping of foreign governments’ sensitive data via Crypto AG.

“The Office of the Attorney General confirms it has received a criminal complaint by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) dated Feb. 2, 2020, regarding possible violations of export control law,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

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The case of Crypto AG is potentially embarrassing for neutral Switzerland and could hurt its international reputation as a safe haven for national secrets and communications.

If found guilty, Crypto AG executives could face a decade behind bars and fines of up to $5.25 million.