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Special prosecutor appointed in Crypto spy scandal

A Crypto AG encryption device Keystone / Ennio Leanza

A special public prosecutor has been named in connection with the Crypto spying affair involving manipulated encryption devices which the CIA and the German intelligence agency used to spy on half the world.

Peter Marti, a former judge and district attorney, will look into the violations of official secrecy that took place during the investigation, the supervisory authority of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said on Thursday.

In the course of the Crypto investigation, information from the confidential draft of the inspection report ended up in the hands of certain media. This caused serious institutional damage for parliament’s business audit commissions, the OAG’s supervisory authority said.

The information had been leaked during the administrative consultation phase. In November the business audit commissions filed a complaint with the OAG against an unknown person for breach of official secrecy.

Guise of Swiss neutrality

The audit committee investigation was prompted by revelations last February that Zug-based firm Crypto AG was at the heart of a huge international spying operation led by the CIA but also involving the German BND spy service.

More than 100 countries bought the encryption devices from the company, which did business under the guise of Swiss neutrality. In reality, the firm belonged to the CIA and Germany intelligence service, which could freely read what it encrypted. Information intercepted with the help of Crypto’s devices changed the course of events including the Iran hostage situation in 1979.

The Swiss government says it was informed about the scandal in autumn 2019.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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