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EDF convicted of spying on Greenpeace

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

On November 10, a French court convicted the French state electricity company, Electricité de France SA (EDF), on charges of spying on Greenpeace, fined the company 1.5 million euro, and ordered it to pay 500,000 euros in damages to the environmental organisation for non-material loss.

EDF, Europe’s largest producer of electricity, was charged with complicity in concealing stolen documents and complicity to intrude in a computer network. In 2006, EDF hired a hacker and a private investigator in a “cloak-and-dagger” undercover effort to spy on Greenpeace France’s operations. The spying operation monitored Greenpeace while it challenged plans by the UK government to work with EDF to expand its nuclear operations. The hacking caused the theft of more than 1,400 documents from the computer of the Greenpeace France programme director.

EDF's spying operation monitored Greenpeace while they challenged plans by the UK government to work with EDF to expand its nuclear operations. Clearly worried about this - and losing the nuclear debate in France, EDF somehow decided a cloak and dagger espionage operation was the way to go. In 2006, the company hired private investigation company Kargus Consultants to spy on Greenpeace France. Kargus went too far, and hacked into, then stole 1,400 documents from the computer of Greenpeace France's program director. But they got caught.

The men prosecuted were Pascal Durieux, head of EDF's nuclear safety at EDF in 2006, Pierre-Paul Francois, EDF's second in command of nuclear safety security during the same period; Thierry Lorho, the boss of Kargus, and Alain Quiros, Kargus computer scientist.

This spying scandal and verdict against EDF couldn't have come at a worse time for the global nuclear industry which is reeling from the fallout of the Fukushima disaster. In recent weeks and months countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have turned their backs on nuclear power. The new generation of nuclear reactors (with which EDF are heavily involved) is years behind schedule, billions over budget, and beset by construction defects and safety concerns.

“The fine against EDF, and the damages awarded to Greenpeace send a strong signal to the nuclear industry that no one is above the law”, said Adélaïde Colin, Greenpeace France communications director. “In the run up to the next presidential elections, this verdict shows that the nuclear industry is not compatible with French democracy. Voters should keep this scandal in mind and try to ensure that the energy issue in France is not taken hostage by the nuclear industry and politicians.”

At present, the four French European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) are being built in Finland, France and China are well behind schedule, hampered by significant construction problems and billions over budget, in the case of EDF’s reactors in Finland, and France.

Source: Greenpeace Press release, 10 November 2011 / Greenpeace blogpost by Justin McKeating, 10 November 2011
Contact: Adélaïde Colin, Greenpeace France Communications Director, Tel: +33 6 84250825