For decades, the Belgian intelligence services knew nothing of a major espionage operation by their American and German partners, which probably also targeted our country. According to Committee I’s report, Belgium was “deliberately” excluded from the secret espionage network, which also included the Netherlands and France. It says ‘De Tijd’ on Monday.
Committee I, the Belgian regulator of investigative services, investigated the Crypto AG case. During that operation, Belgium was spied on by the US, Germany and other allies for years. It emerged three years ago from secret reports by the US intelligence agency CIA and the German service BND.
The operation, codenamed Rubicon, revolved around Crypto AG, a Swiss company in which the CIA and BND secretly became partners in 1970. Crypto AG has been the market leader in communication encryption engines for many years. However, in some countries the Americans and Germans received destructible crypto machines, while other countries received waterproof devices. From 1973 to 1993, Rubicon was one of the most successful intelligence operations since World War II.
Belgium was not a partner, but a target
The leaked documents indicated that Belgium was not a partner, but a target. Secret messages sent by Belgian diplomats from embassies to the central administration in Brussels may have been spied on by American and German services for three decades.
Committee I writes in its final report that Belgian intelligence did not know about the Crypto AG case until it was leaked to the press. Belgian intelligence services were “deliberately kept outside the secret SIGINT network Maximator”, Committee I. Maximator, a coalition of intelligence services from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, was named after the German beer. Established in 1976. They intercepted electronic messages (‘signals intelligence’ or SIGINT) via Crypto AG machines. “There is a good chance that Belgium is subject to interception of its encrypted messages.”
Although the matter is old, the Committee I urges our intelligence services that their encrypted messages may be subject to decipherment operations.
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