French electricity generator Electricité de France (EDF) has suspended two staff members from their duties while a legal inquiry into allegations of hacking into the computer systems of anti-nuclear campaigner Greenpeace is in progress.
According to an EDF statement, site protection engineer Pierre Francois and Production and Engineering Division security manager Pascal Durieux have been suspended "as a precautionary measure" to ensure the impartiality of the legal enquiry.
The allegations came to light at the beginning of April, when French media reported details of a judicial investigation into the alleged 2006 hacking of computer systems used by Greenpeace. As well as the two EDF employees, employees of private security firm Kargus Consultants are also under investigation. According to press reports, a Kargus employee has admitted to the hacking charge, although the EDF employees have denied knowingly hacking into a computer system. However, EDF's statement notes that as a result of internal investigations it has discovered that a monitoring contract with a company called Securewyse "was signed without full regard" for EDF's own rules. That contract has now been cancelled.
EDF says it too is a victim of actions by Kargus and has registered as a plaintiff in the case. "As soon as we became aware of the situation, EDF immediately instigated a civil action for damages as a victim of the company Kargus Consultants, which has in the past worked for us," EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz told Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, in a letter released by the pressure group.
French media reports, cited in a Greenpeace France press release, now allege that the vehemently anti-nuclear pressure group has been the victim of so-called EDF "spying" since "at least" 2004, and that its offices in Belgium, the UK and Spain may also have been targeted.
"Like all industrial enterprises, EDF constantly monitors information that may affect its activity while strictly observing the legal provisions," EDF's statement concludes. "EDF wholeheartedly condemns any method aimed at obtaining information illegally."