The Swiss government has lodged a felony complaint over the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s alleged use of a cryptography service as a front to spy on several governments’ secret communications, the Swiss attorney general’s workplace stated Sunday.
The complaint against persons unknown for alleged violations of the law governing export controls follows recent reports on “Operation Rubicon”, which for many years involved the CIA and German BND spy companies covertly reading other nations’ secret messages encoded with technology sold by Swiss agency Crypto AG.
The case of Crypto, which sold encryption gadgets and software while being secretly controlled by U.S. and German intelligence services that would read what it encrypted, is embarrassing for neutral Switzerland and will hurt its international status, mainly if it turned a blind eye.
Although the drafts of Operation Rubicon had been identified for years, new details about its scope and duration had been made public in February by Swiss, German and U.S. investigative journalists.
The attorney general’s office will evaluate the grievance before deciding whether to launch criminal proceedings, the statement stated, confirming a report by newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
A spokesperson for Switzerland’s Economy Ministry confirmed that the complaint had been registered but declined to elaborate.
The expertise Crypto sold to dozens of governments along with those of Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Chile, India and Argentina had deliberate glitches or integrated back doors that made messages readable to U.S. and German spies. In
SonntagsZeitung stated SECO, which is responsible for authorizing exports of sensitive gear, believes it was misguided into clearing the sale of Crypto’s machines and software and argues it might never have done so had it known about the scheme.