CIA snooped on India for years along with Germany’s BND: Report

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 12, 2020

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and German intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) ran a secret joint operation, codenamed 'Thesaurus' initially and 'Rubicon' later, to spy on some countries, including India and Pakistan, according to the Washington Post.

The CIA-BND combine achieved this by running a joint venture named Crypto AG, which ran from the 1970s to 2018. The company manufactured code-writing machines used for encrypted communication. The CIA used to decode the intercepted messages and passed them on to a close-knit group of partners, reported the Washington Post.

The company was dismembered and sold off in 2018 to different companies without revealing its antecedents.

The Post mentioned that India and Pakistan were among the company’s more than 120 clients that were being snooped upon. However, it did not specify a particular operation or communication that may have been intercepted.

According to the Post, it was the most “audacious” of intelligence operations. The US and Germany got all the required information and were being paid a hefty amount by the countries using their coding machines. Even the most secret communication was read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries. “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” read the CIA report mentioned in the Post.

Crypto AG was founded by a Russian named Boris Hagelin, who moved to Sweden and later shifted to the US. The US and BND took control of the firm in the early 1970s. Both the CIA and BND manufactured devices that could easily compromise the secret information. The operation not only helped them to spy on 120 countries but helped them earn millions of dollars. The amount was later invested to fund their other secret operations.

The Post observed that the CIA monitored the Iranians for years, especially during the hostage crisis, as they used Crypto devices.

This is not the first time that the CIA has been found to be spying on India. In 2013, secret documents released by US whistleblower Edward Snowden had revealed that the CIA accessed computers of the Indian embassy in Washington DC.

Published on February 12, 2020

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