One of the most effective espionage operations was almost derailed when a clerk, unaware of his situation, was taken from Iran.
Hans Bühler, then 51, was held prisoner for nine months until his employer, the Swiss producer Crypto AG, paid $ 1 million in Tehran in 1993.
Crypto was managed by the CIA and the German intelligence agency BND which allowed American friends, particularly Britain during the Falklands conflict, to spy on their enemies. The ransom was recognized at the time, but the funds were secretly provided by the BND, documents showed this week.
Neither the Iranians nor Bühler knew that the BND and its US counterpart had managed Crypto for decades, financing their other operations.
From the 50s until at least