The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Dutch National Police (Politie), and the Swedish Police Authority (Polisen), in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and 16 other countries, have carried out with the support of Europol one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities.

As part of that operation, U.S. authorities enlisted the help of an unnamed third country in the European Union. This country collected the messages before providing them to the FBI thrice weekly. The FBI obtained these messages through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), an agreement between parties to provide information.

Before the unnamed country was identified, Patrick Griffin, founder and lead attorney at the criminal defense law firm, Griffin Law Office, APC, led a group of defense attorneys in filing a motion in the Southern District of California; as the San Diego FBI led the operation, demanding the FBI reveal which unnamed country helped intercept their clients’ messages.

“The bottom line is that our government knew its mass surveillance program was unconstitutional, so it secretly co-opted a country in Europe in an attempt to circumvent our privacy laws. The government is now refusing to reveal even the identity of the third country,”  Mr. Griffin told reporters.

Since winning the motion, all participating countries have been identified, which is a critical win for Mr. Griffin and the defense team he leads.

Mr. Griffin’s law office is located in San Diego, making it of particular interest to the group’s lead defense attorney. More than 800 suspected criminals have been arrested worldwide after being tricked into using an FBI-run encrypted messaging app, officials say, allowing police to monitor their chats.

The international case is full of media intrigue. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and BBC have discussed it in articles that circulate globally.

This article will be updated as the case proceeds through the legal system.