Kaspar Villiger’s denial looked firm and detailed. On more than a page and a half A4, the former radical federal adviser told our editorial staff last Wednesday that the CIA documents on the Crypto AG case were completely wrong – at least as regards his own role in this spy scandal. He wouldn’t have known anything. Even as Minister of Defense in the 1990s. “I was not informed of this intelligence operation,” wrote the Lucernois.
But today, Kaspar Villiger’s denial is shaken – not by documents from the American and German secret services as before, but by an internal confidential document from the Federal Council. This is a position paper signed by the head of the Federal Department of Defense (DDPS) Viola Amherd (PDC) and sent to colleagues in the government on December 17, 2019.
This document, the content of which has not yet been made public, is the first official source in Switzerland according to which persons within the Swiss government may have been implicated in the Crypto AG affair.
In fact, the Federal Councilor’s “discussion paper” has a genesis of several months. Certain units of the DDPS had been informed since last summer of research on Crypto AG carried out by the program “Rundschau” on German-language television. By the end of October at the latest, the Christian Democrat Minister has become aware of the explosive potential of the issue. His department therefore conducted its own internal investigation to clarify the facts. Former officials were notably questioned.
In November, the Federal Council also set up a working group from no less than eight different administrative units, to search for traces of the Crypto AG affair throughout the federal administration. On December 17, although there are still many “open questions”, Viola Amherd takes stock of the progress of these investigations – and informs her colleagues of an explosive discovery, of which she herself did not have knowledge that the day before.
“K. Villiger was informed “
That day, the director of the Confederation’s Intelligence Service (SRC) Jean-Philippe Gaudin came to find her. He informed her that several documents relating to Crypto AG had been discovered in an old intelligence archive, Viola Amherd told other federal advisers. She writes the following sentence: “They (note: the documents found) indicate that the former DMF chief K. Villiger was informed.”
This sentence appears black on white in the document given to his colleagues by Viola Amherd. This is confirmed by several leading sources. The federal councilor from Valais does not give additional details on the nature and content of the elements discovered. But the fact that the head of the DDPS confirms that Kaspar Villiger was indeed aware of the double game of Crypto AG forces the latter to explain himself again.
In light of this new information, how should we interpret the “denial” that Kaspar Villiger sent to the media a few days ago? Does this explain why certain passages of his written position were formulated to say the least? Among other things, he said he did not have “detailed” information on the subject. Had Kaspar Villiger had at least some “broad outline” knowledge of the CIA’s hold on Crypto AG?
We confronted the former minister with the overwhelming assertion of Viola Amherd. In his re-written response, the 79-year-old politician denies having known anything about the real underside of Crypto AG. And it does it with even more force than Wednesday. “I knew nothing of the influence of the CIA or the BND (editor’s note: the German intelligence service)” on Crypto AG, writes Kaspar Villiger. Commenting on the now established fact that the encryption devices had been tampered with, he said, “I did not have this information.” Neither the Viola Amherd discussion document nor the archival documents discovered are known to him, he said. He adds: “I would also be interested in knowing more rather than being reduced to mere assumptions.” He will therefore cooperate fully with the various bodies responsible for investigating this case, he announced.
“It’s not something we forget”
Kaspar Villiger had previously admitted on Wednesday that he had spoken of the company in 1994 to his party colleague Georg Stucky, a former member of the board of directors of Crypto AG – exactly as it is mentioned in CIA files. If he remembers correctly, the conversation was about the then ongoing investigation by the federal police into the encryption devices allegedly manipulated by Crypto AG – but “not about the activities of the CIA or BND,” said the former. Federal Councilor. “This is not something to be forgotten, and that would have prompted me to raise this question in the Federal Council.” On this point, Kaspar Villiger is therefore in direct contradiction with the description of events made in the CIA report. The latter indicates that the Lucernian was informed by Stucky about the true nature of Crypto AG, which was a facade for foreign intelligence services.
The new denial of Kaspar Villiger, even more categorical, now raises the question of what exactly contain the files that the head of the SRC Jean-Philippe Gaudin claims to have found. The DDPS press service does not comment on the matter, saying that the Federal Council is now awaiting the results of the investigation requested from former federal judge Niklaus Oberholzer.
Created: 02-14-2020, 10:05 p.m.