-- As a key founder of French smart card producer Gemplus, Marc Lassus's startling revelation in his new book has sparked a worldwide outcry against the American coercion in economic and technological sectors.
-- The United States not only usurped Gemplus' leading position in the industry, but also made best of the high-tech unicorn's smart cards to collect information and eavesdrop the rest of the world.
-- The Gemplus affair was just one historical scene in which the United States used its national power to steal information by all possible means. For decades, the country, relying on its technological superiority, has been addicted to peeping and wiretapping on ordinary people, their competitors and even their allies.
BEIJING, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- In his new book The Chip Trap, Marc Lassus, key founder of French smart card producer Gemplus, has chosen to speak out and reveal how the U.S. security services persecuted him and seized control of his tech firm.
The startling revelation has sparked a worldwide outcry against the American coercion in economic and technological sectors.
The book, which came after The American Trap: My Battle to Expose America's Secret Economic War against the Rest of the World written by Frederic Pierucci, a former senior manager for French energy and transport conglomerate Alstom, serves as yet another testimony to America's dark history of handicapping tech companies of other countries by hook or by crook to make ill-gotten selfish gains.
Gemplus, founded in 1988, used to be a world's leading provider of smart card-based solutions. Running production plants and research and development centers in 37 countries and regions worldwide, the company had led the world production of smart cards by the end of 2000, taking a more than 40 percent share of the world market.
As the company grew, what co-founder Lassus did not expect was that the U.S. security services had been on its tail and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had already sent an investment group to sneakily seize absolute control of Gemplus.
"It was when I started my company that I began having problems with the Americans. They wrote a big check, they put in 550 million euros (643 million U.S. dollars) to take 26 percent shares of the company," Lassus told Xinhua via a recent video interview.
"But what I did not know was the first shareholders at that time, who were allies for me since they had gone up in the capital -- they had 20 percent, I had 19 percent and we were working hand in hand. And all of a sudden, what we see was that they were completely at the service of the Americans, of the CIA," he recalled.
At the same time, the U.S. investment group also launched a consulting firm that had long worked closely with the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) to train representatives of U.S. investors in Gemplus and "provide several strategic advice to the management of Gemplus," he added.
Lassus was eventually forced to resign and "Alex Mandel, an American who served on the board of directors of the CIA venture capital agency IN-Q-TEL, became Gemplus CEO," he said.
File photo shows journalists reporting at the headquarters of Alstom in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, France, on April 27, 2014. (Xinhua/Li Genxing)
BUGGING THE WORLD
In Pierucci's memoirs, he was arrested, charged, and thrown into jail in the United States in 2013.
After being heavily fined by the U.S. Department of Justice, Alstom's core business was sold to its main U.S. competitor, General Electric.
Alstom was never the only case that the United States managed to considerably undermine its foreign competitors and fortify its own economic edges by long-arm jurisdiction and other ulterior means.
In the case of Gemplus, the U.S. side not only usurped the company's leading position in the industry, but also made best of the high-tech unicorn's smart cards to collect information and eavesdrop the rest of the world.
"Since the Gemplus affair, spies no longer need to go out in the field. Most of the time, they can just stay behind their PCs. They use the right software. They have the entry systems and in particular as regards telecommunications, it was the SIM card," Lassus said.
According to Lassus, the CIA had all the data of his company's customers, covering billions of people. He said by the time the Americans got their hands on Gemplus, they had all the access codes available to every customer of the company.
After the U.S. manipulation was exposed in his book, voices condemning the United States spread quickly on social networks.
Internet user Fofifonfec said, "faced with the voracity of sharks ... a certain naivety can lead to ruin preceded by the theft of all its property."
"The USA is in fact nothing more than cuckoos which plunder and appropriate the technologies which interest them, without any shame," commented Internet user Cliona.
This undated combo photo shows Marc Lassus (L), key founder of French smart card producer Gemplus, and (R) the cover of his book The Chip Trap (Chinese Edition). (CITIC Press Group/Handout via Xinhua)
PULLING STRINGS IN SHADOW
"I and my company, we were attacked by the CIA in 2000," Lassus said in his interview with Xinhua.
The Gemplus affair, as he put it, was just one historical scene in which the United States used its national power to steal information by all possible means. For decades, the United States, relying on its technological superiority, has been addicted to peeping and wiretapping on ordinary people, their competitors and even their allies.
In fact, they have become the biggest source of cyberattacks in the world, and their army of hackers pull the strings in the shadow.
In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former CIA and NSA employee, blew the whistle to the media on the colossal scale of the U.S. government's eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A year later, the "WikiLeaks" website disclosed that the United States had monitored several French presidents, including Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.
In May this year, the Danish media revealed that the NSA was using the services of some U.S. allies to monitor other allies, not least in cooperation with the Danish Defense Intelligence Agency, monitoring leaders of the European countries.
The U.S. commitment to its allies sounds eloquently assertive, but it is as fragile as soap bubbles when the truth has been brought to light. After the exposure of U.S. eavesdropping European leaders, France and Germany deplored the alleged spying as "unacceptable," and demanded "full clarity" from the U.S. side.
"It is time to speak out the truth," Lassus said after experiencing countless repressions and threats from the United States. "We must make European countries aware that the United States are not real friends, sometimes even enemies," he added. (Video reporters: Chen Shaohua, Yang Jun and Zhang Jian; Video editor: Li Li)■