A journalist from Swiss Television sought access to documents related to the espionage scandal involving the Zug-based company Crypto.
However, the Swiss Federal Court has ruled that these documents will remain classified, citing public interests that oppose their disclosure.
Details of the Case
The journalist’s request for access to files from the Federal Police and documents from the Swiss Export Insurance linked to the Crypto affair was rejected by the Swiss Federal Court. In two recently published rulings, the court determined that public interests outweighed the need for disclosure.
Protected Period and Spying Allegations
The archived files at the Federal Archives are subject to a protection period of either 50 or 80 years. These documents pertain to investigations conducted by the Federal Police in the 1990s when allegations of espionage were raised against the former company Crypto.
Potential Future Access
While the Swiss Federal Court did not rule out the possibility of granting access before the expiration of the protection period, it maintained that the current circumstances did not warrant it. The files reportedly contain information about informants from foreign intelligence agencies and countries to whom “weak” encryption machines were supplied. Given this sensitive information, Switzerland has a continued interest in maintaining secrecy.
Export Insurance Documents and Sensitivity
The Export Insurance documents relating to Crypto devices sold abroad also face substantial public interest in confidentiality. These documents contain detailed information about countries, ministries, and intelligence agencies that acquired Crypto devices, along with their respective versions. The court emphasized that these details have not been made public to date. The nations involved have a vested interest in keeping this information undisclosed, as its release could potentially affect Switzerland’s relations with these countries.
Background on the Crypto Scandal
In February 2020, a joint investigation by various media outlets, including Swiss Television, revealed that German and U.S. intelligence were covert owners of Crypto AG, allowing manipulated cipher machines to be delivered to numerous countries, enabling surveillance.