Global, Russian-Style Hacking by a CIA Front Leads to Exit of Swiss Spy Chief
The History of Crypto AG: ” … For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software. The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican. But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA. …” – WaPo, “The Intelligence Coup of the Century,” Feb. 11, 2020.
OPERATION RUBICON – The secret purchase of Crypto AG by BND and CIA
THESAURUS 1 (later: RUBICON), was a secret operation of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to purchase the Swiss crypto manufacturer Crypto AG (Hagelin) — codenamed MINERVA — in order to control the company, its algorithms and – indirectly – its customers. From 12 June 1970 2 onwards, Crypto AG was jointly owned by CIA and BND, each with 50% of the shares, and from 30 June 1994 exclusively by the CIA – https://www.cryptomuseum.com/intel/cia/rubicon.htm
Swiss spy chief exits after reports of row over CIA-linked firm
Reuters, May 12, 2021
ZURICH, May 12 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s spy chief will leave his post, the government said on Wednesday, after a newspaper reported he had fallen out with the defence minister over his handling of a scandal involving a cryptography firm linked to the CIA.
Jean-Philippe Gaudin, elevated in 2018 to head Switzerland’s NDB intelligence service under then-Defence Minister Guy Parmelin, will be replaced by Juerg Buehler on an interim basis, the government said in a statement.
The Tages-Anzeiger paper reported that tensions developed between Gaudin and current Defence Minister Viola Amherd in part because he waited too long to inform her about the affair involving Crypto AG.
For decades, the Swiss company sold encryption devices while being secretly owned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Germany’s intelligence service, which could freely read what it encrypted. (https://reut.rs/3eEZwNh)
The NDB gave no reason for Gaudin’s departure, saying only that he would take up a “new challenge” in the private sector.
A spokesman for the intelligence service did not immediately comment on the newspaper report. Gaudin could not be reached for comment.
Reports about CIA involvement in Crypto have circulated in Switzerland for years, in particular after the arrest in the 1990s of one of the company’s salesmen in Iran, which accused him of leaking encryption codes to its Western rivals.
But new details emerged in early 2020 when Swiss authorities said they were investigating reports that the CIA and the German BND spy service had used Crypto’s encryption technology to crack other nations’ top-secret messages, stirring an outcry in officially neutral Switzerland.
Reporting by John Miller Editing by Mark Heinrich