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Operation RUBICON   THESAURUS
The secret purchase of Crypto AG by BND and CIA

THESAURUS 1 (later: RUBICON), was a secret operation of the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to purchase the Swiss crypto manufacturer Crypto AG (Hagelin) — codenamed MINERVA — in order to control the company, its algorithms and – indirectly – its customers. From 12 June 1970 2 onwards, Crypto AG was jointly owned by CIA and BND, each with 50% of the shares, and from 30 June 1994 exclusively by the CIA.


It was already known from the so-called Friedman Collection – that was partially released by the NSA in 2014 – that some kind of gentleman's agreement existed between the NSA and Crypto AG annex Boris Hagelin, probably resulting from their cooperation during WWII. But as the released documents were heavily redacted, much of the gentleman's agreement remained clouded.

In February 2020, journalists Peter F. Müller and Ulrich Stoll of the German television station ZDF, and Greg Miller of the American news­paper The Washington Post, were able to fill in the gaps in the gentleman's agreement and much more, based on internal CIA and BND documents to which they had access. After an investigation that took well over one year, and involved experts in five countries, it was revealed that since 1970, BND and CIA had been the real owners of Crypto AG.


Together with the Dutch investigative VPRO radio program Argos, Crypto Museum took part in the investigation and was able to advise on technical matters. Discover how CIA and BND turned Crypto AG from a simple denial operation into an active measures operation. Learn which rolls were played by the Deutsche Treuhand Gesellschaft (KPMG), a Liechtenstein law firm, Siemens, Motorola, NSA and Swedish intelligence. The following story is – in the words of the CIA – about:

The Intelligence Coup of the Century

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, several media will report about Operation RUBICON and will reveal more details. Crypto Museum will follow suit with further details and technical backgrounds. Many pages on this website will be updated soon and some have been rewritten completely, to reflect the new information. Here is some news to watch out for:

USA
The Intelligence Coup of the Century
National Security Archive


Germany
Press announcement
ZDF Television, Frontal-21
 18 March 2020 20:15 - ZDFinfo (60 minutes)


Switzerland
Weltweite Spionage-Operation mit Schweizer Firma aufgedeckt
Investigation opened into Swiss encryption firm liked to CIA
10vor10 news broadcast of 11 February 2020

Rundschau (100 minutes), Wednesday 12 February 20:05
 Rundschau (100 minutes), with English subtitles

Interview with Res Strehle (author of 'Der Fall Hans Bühler')


Netherlands
Cryptoleaks: geheime evaluatierapporten CIA en BND uitgelekt
De cryptoleaks van CIA en BND: 'Dit was de inlichtingen-coup van de eeuw'
NPO-2, Nieuwsuur, Thursday 13 February 21:00
 Saturday 15 February 14:00 - VPRO radio Argos - Netherlands


Worldwide
Press release (PDF)
The Gentleman's Agreement
Operation RUBICON: 19 March 2020



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Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 12 December 2019. Last changed: Sunday, 23 February 2020 - 21:15 CET.
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