In the Media

EDF fined ?1.5m for spying on Greenpeace

PUBLISHED November 10, 2011

The energy company's executive director was sentenced to three years in prison for employing a firm to hack into the energy watchdog's computers French state energy company EDF was fined ?1.5m and had its executive director sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, on charges of spying on the environmental watchdog Greenpeace. The court in Nanterre near Paris sentenced the second in command of nuclear safety, Pierre-Paul Fran?ois, to three years' imprisonment, with 30 month suspended. The head of nuclear safety, Pascal Durieux, three years' imprisonment, two years suspended and a ?10,000 fine for commissioning the spying operation. The company has also been ordered to pay ?500,000 in damages to Greenpeace. The judge also handed down a guilty verdict in the case of Thierry Lorho, the head of Kargus, the company employed by EDF to hack into the computers of Greenpeace. He has been sentenced to three years in jail, with two suspended and a ?4,000 fine. EDF is Europe's biggest energy company, owns the main UK nuclear power operator British Energy and is a major sponsor of the London Olympics. The company was charged with complicity in concealing stolen documents and complicity to intrude in a computer network. EDF and Greenpeace have fought for years over France's power production, more than three-quarters of which is nuclear. In 2006, EDF hired a private detective agency called Kargus Consultants, run by a former member of the French secret services, to find out more about Greenpeace France's intentions and its plans to block new nuclear in the UK. The agency hacked the computer of Yannick Jadot, Greenpeace's then campaigns director, taking 1,400 documents from his computer. An EDF official had no immediate comment. During the trial, EDF said that it was the victim of overzealous efforts to find out what Greenpeace was doing and the company was unaware anyone would hack into a computer at Greenpeace. "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 Ad?la?de Colin, communications director for Greenpeace France. "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." The case has sparked outrage among anti-nuclear campaigners in France whose secret services were behind the bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior 26 years ago. Moreover, safety has become a greater concern in France since Japan's Fukushima atomic disaster. Speaking from alongside the new Rainbow Warrior, currently on its maiden voyage and docked in London, Greenpeace UK's executive director, John Sauven, said: "The evidence presented at the trial showed that the espionage undertaken by EDF in its efforts to discredit Greenpeace was both extensive and totally illegal. The company should now give a full account of the spying operation it mounted against its critics. As one of the six companies with a monopoly over electricity supply in this country and a major sponsor of the Olympics, EDF has a duty to come clean. The length of the sentences handed down shows just how seriously the judge views what the French state owned company did." Greenpeace EDF Energy Hacking Crime Hanna Gersmann © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds