Switzerland closes investigation into CIA-linked encryption firm

The spying began in the 1970s and allegedly continued until at least 2018, and over 100 countries worldwide were targeted. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The Swiss authorities have concluded that Crypto AG did not violate any laws when applying for export licences for what turned out to be compromised encryption devices.  

This content was published on December 21, 2020 - 12:09

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has dropped criminal proceedings in connection with the Crypto affair, it announced on Monday in response to a request from the Keystone-SDA news agency. The charges had been filed in mid-February by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) against unknown persons. 

The purpose of the investigation was to find out whether Crypto AG had concealed facts in the export licence applications and/or falsely declared important information. Other questions, such as espionage, were not at issue. 

According to media reports, the Zug-based company had for years been selling compromised encryption devices to various foreign governments and armies. The devices had allegedly been manipulated so that the CIA and West German intelligence services could decrypt the communications running over them. 

The OAG has ordered the return of around 400 confiscated encryption devices. 

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