The French energy giant EDF was fined €1.5m yesterday and two of its executives jailed for hacking into the computers of Greenpeace.
EDF, which runs the French electricity industry and eight nuclear power stations in the UK, was found guilty of "industrial espionage" after a computer hacker spied on Greenpeace's anti-nuclear campaign plans in 2006.
EDF – Electricité de France – claimed in a French court hearing last month that the hacker had been hired without its knowledge by an industrial intelligence company. It is considering an appeal.
The Tribunal Correctionnel at Nanterre was told that EDF engaged the services of Kargus Consultants, a economic intelligence company, to uncover Greenpeace's anti-nuclear strategy.
In particular, the court was told, EDF wanted advance warning of Greenpeace's plans to disrupt the construction of a new nuclear power station at Flamanville in lower Normandy.
Prosecutors said that Kargus hired a computer hacker, Alain Quiros, who penetrated the computer of Greenpeace's then French campaign director, Yannick Jadot, now a Green European MP. Quiros was given a six-month jail term in a delayed judgement yesterday and a €4,000 fine. Two Kargus executives and two senior EDF officials in charge of company security were also given jail terms and fines.
Electricité de France was also ordered to pay €500,000 damages to Greenpeace, which hailed the ruling as a "strong signal" to the nuclear industry in France that it should no longer consider itself to be "above the law".