US and German intelligence services raked in the top secret communications of governments around the world for decades through their hidden control of a top encryption company Crypto AG, US, German and Swiss media reported on Tuesday.
Although Angela Merkel was one of the world leaders affected by a USA phone-tapping scandal a few years ago, a report by The Washington Post has revealed that the National Security Agency and German spy agency BND used to own the world's leading manufacturer of encryption devices, which could have given access to dozens of countries' secrets.
The US and German intelligence, according to the BBC, bought during the 1970s Crypto and controlled nearly the entire operation, including hiring staff, designing the technology, and directing sales. The company's encryption business was split and sold.More news: Trump says Roger Stone prosecutors 'ought to go back to school'
When Hagelin sought to retire, the United States headed off a French government effort to buy his company and arranged its own takeover. They even hired staff, designed the technology and took care of sales. The company's true ownership was masked by front companies in Liechtenstein registries. However, former Chancellery Minister Bernd Schmidbauer, who represented the Christian Democratic Union, confirmed that there was a secret service operation called "Rubikon".
Crypto AG, a Swiss company that dominated the global manufacture and sale of encryption devices for decades after WWII, was a CIA-owned concern.
It was broken into two companies. "If what you are saying is true, then absolutely I feel betrayed, and my family feels betrayed, and I feel there will be a lot of employees who will feel betrayed as well as customers", Andreas Linde, the chairman of the company that now holds the rights to Crypto's global products and business, told The Post.More news: Markets sink again as coronavirus death toll leaps
BND also owned a stack in the company, but they sold their share to Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1990s, thinking that the risk of exposure was too great, and left the operation.
The reports cited operation "Thesaurus" - the name was later changed to "Rubicon" - which gleaned communications of foreign governments from the crypto machines, thereby constituting roughly 40 percent of sensitive information that was processed by USA codebreakers for intelligence. "We are now assessing the situation and will be commenting once we have a full picture".
After being told late previous year of new research about the company, the Swiss government appointed a former Swiss Supreme Court judge last month to scrutinize Crypto's activities "to investigate and clarify the facts of the matter", the Swiss Defense Ministry said.More news: UK economy stalls in fourth quarter of 2019 as manufacturing shrinks
"The events under discussion date back to 1945 and are hard to reconstruct and interpret in the present day context", it added.