A new investigation has found the CIA and West German intelligence were secretly running a Swiss company which made encryption devices for governments. Crypto AG sold equipment to more than 120 countries which allowed them to break their codes.
A joint investigation by The Washington Post and German broadcaster ZDF, based on documents from the two spy agencies, found the company provided them with access to encrypted communications for decades without its customers knowing.
The arrangement also made the agencies millions of dollars.
Britain was passed intelligence by US spies about Argentina’s military during the Falklands War in 1982, according to the investigation.
The spy agencies controlled nearly every aspect of the company’s operations from 1970 onwards.
Clients included Iran, India and Pakistan.
As well as the Falklands War, it allowed spies to monitor Iran’s mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of Berlin’s La Belle nightclub.
Crypto, whose products are still used by a number of countries, was liquidated in 2018.
The two companies that purchased most of its assets say they have no ongoing connection to any intelligence services.