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Report Claims America’s CIA Also Controlled a Second Swiss Encryption Firm

Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike brings this report from AFP:
Swiss politicians have voiced outrage and demanded an investigation after revelations that a second Swiss encryption company was allegedly used by the CIA and its German counterpart to spy on governments worldwide. “How can such a thing happen in a country that claims to be neutral like Switzerland?” co-head of Switzerland’s Socialist Party, Cedric Wermuth, asked in an interview with Swiss public broadcaster SRF late Thursday. He called for a parliamentary inquiry after an SRF investigation broadcast on Wednesday found that a second Swiss encryption firm had been part of a spectacular espionage scheme orchestrated by U.S. and German intelligence services.

A first investigation had revealed back in February an elaborate, decades-long set-up, in which the CIA and its German counterpart creamed off the top-secret communications of governments through their hidden control of a Swiss encryption company called Crypto.

SRF’s report this week found that a second but smaller Swiss encryption firm, Omnisec, had been used in the same way.

That company, which was split off from Swiss cryptographic equipment maker Gretag in 1987, sold voice, fax and data encryption equipment to governments around the world until it halted operations two years ago. SRF’s investigative program Rundschau concluded that, like Crypto, Omnisec had sold manipulated equipment to foreign governments and armies. Omnisec meanwhile also sold its faulty OC-500 series devices to several federal agencies in Switzerland, including its own intelligence agencies, as well as to Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, and other private companies in the country, the SRF investigation showed.

The findings unleashed fresh outrage in Switzerland, which is still reeling from the Crypto revelations.

The first compromised cryptography company “served for decades as a Trojan horse to spy on governments worldwide,” according to the article, citing news reports from SRF, the Washington Post and German broadcaster ZDF. “The company supplied devices for encoded communications to some 120 countries from after World War II to the beginning of this century, including to Iran, South American governments, India and Pakistan.

“Unknown to those governments, Crypto was secretly acquired in 1970 by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency together with the then West Germanyâ(TM)s BND Federal Intelligence Service.”


Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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