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In one of the most damning spy cases of all time, Switzerland accuses the CIA and German Intelligence of spying on other countries. The operation, which ran for years, is believed to have been a deliberate move by the Swiss cryptographic company as the alleged source.
The complaint was forwarded to the Attorney General’s office by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) about the role of Crypto AG in all threats. SECO believes companies mislead them, among many other things, encryption devices. While the company promised total security, they created a back door to access information from the device.
SECO was unaware of the US Central Intelligence Center, and the Federal Federal Intelligence Service was part of the device manufacturer until 2018. For decades, the two entities produced gadgets that they would encrypt for information from several countries.
SECO has filed a lawsuit against an unknown person because they have not yet determined who at Crypto AG might be aware of the threat. With around 400 employees at the top, it might take time to identify the suspected offender. The only positive is that only a few top tire employees tend to know confidential information so as to facilitate location
SECO plans to pursue justice with Article 14 of the Goods Control Act which requires dealers to provide all necessary information about a product. Failure to provide important information attracts a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of CHF5 million ($ 5.18 million).
SECO said that it relies on non-factual information when buying a gadget. That if it has all the information, it will not delete commands from the Crypto engine.
This is not the first time Crypto AG has faced similar accusations. The company, which specializes in making encryption and other password devices, is accused of selling “back door” products to German, British and American intelligence.
This is also not the first time information about Operation Rubicon has come out. It’s just that most of the information is lacking. However, after research by investigative journalist teams from Germany, Switzerland and the US, more information came out.
To date, the Attorney General’s office has not yet completed its investigation to determine whether the case guarantees open criminal proceedings, as reported by Sunday newspaper. The Swiss Ministry of Economy also confirmed the existence of complaints without further information.
The Swiss government has appointed a former Chief Justice to investigate the issue of Operation Rubicon. Judges are expected to report it immediately. The Swiss Parliament also faces increasing pressure to launch further investigations into Switzerland’s role in the whole saga.
In addition to Switzerland, several other countries have also been targeted by spy tactics using Crypto devices. Some countries affected include Iran, Argentina, Libya, Egypt and Chile. All of these received defective devices that had leaks for American and German spies.
After that, the spy will share information among the five countries at a cost. That Five Eyes member receiving communications were the US, UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.
The whole scandal is a big problem for Switzerland because of its long position as a neutral country. The state wants to do everything in its power to maintain that position.
Why Swiss Neutrality Is Important
One reason why Switzerland is devastated by espionage reports is because it risks losing its stance as a neutral state. Only a few countries in the world enjoy such a position. Especially Austria and Sweden. However, they don’t seem to provide as much value as Switzerland.
The neutrality status has enabled Switzerland to become the leading negotiator among the warring countries. For example, it has played an important role in negotiations for a peace agreement between the US and Iran. This has facilitated sending humanitarian aid to Iran and also to reduce international economic sanctions.
However, its role in selling defective encryption devices to the US and Germany to spy on other countries was tested on its stance on world powers. The citizens of Swizz will also not like the ongoing war cases from that country. They already believed that their neutrality helped protect them from world wars 1 and 2.
It is also a period of peace that has helped in the development of stronger economy and infrastructure. While neighboring countries turned their companies into ash and dust, they continued to grow at an unprecedented rate.
The prevalence of espionage in the world
The main concern that arises is how much information the US has about other countries. With most countries failing to produce cryptographic equipment, they rely on Crypto AG for supplies. Only Soviet Russia and China Bloc did not depend on Crypto AG for the device.
Reports indicate that the US and Germany experienced a collapse because of the level of the US listening to both allies and competing countries. With the US holding shares in the company for longer, they have access to details in various countries. Latin America, parts of Asia, including Korea, Bangladesh and Vietnam, are all tapped for information.
Touted as one of the safest platforms because of encryption, most leaders use devices for communication. Although the level of US invasion is unclear, it is believed to be quite a lot.
Espionage is not a new phenomenon in the world. Some espionage attacks target other countries and organizations. For example, the African Union accused China of placing hearing devices at the main headquarters it had built. World leaders have also been targeted by spies.
However, what is new is the role of cryptography in spying. Disclosure of the role of Crypto AG not only threatens the position of Switzerland as neutral ground but also focuses on the safety of crypto.
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