US cyclist, energy firm guilty in French hacking scandal

Nov 10, 2011 by Ludovic Luppino
A French court has fined French state energy giant EDF 1.5 million euros ($2 million) for spying on environmental campaigners Greenpeace.

A French court handed disgraced US cyclist Floyd Landis a suspended sentence and fined energy giant EDF on Thursday after ruling that both used a shady corporate espionage operation to hack computers.

Both were found guilty of using a French consultancy set up by a former spy and an ex-commando that hired a self-taught hacker to break into the computer systems of an anti-doping laboratory and environmental group Greenpeace.

The court handed Landis and his former trainer Arnie Barker one-year suspended jail sentences after finding them guilty of fraudulently receiving documents from the official LNDD anti-doping agency.

Landis had been trying to clear his name after being stripped of his title as winner of the 2006 Tour de France and turned to the corporate spy group, Kargus Consultants, who in turn hired hacker Alain Quiros to obtain the records.

Neither Barker nor Landis was present for the trial and both are subject to international arrest warrants. Lawyers for the men had pleaded their innocence.

In the same trial, the court fined French state energy giant EDF 1.5 million euros ($2 million) for using the consultancy to spy on environmental campaigners Greenpeace.

EDF admitted hiring the consultancy to "monitor" Greenpeace but said it was unaware that Quiros had hacked into the computer of the group's former head of campaigns for France, Yannick Jadot, in 2006.

Greenpeace's anti-nuclear campaigning regularly targets EDF, which runs France's network of 58 electricity-producing nuclear reactors.

Two former EDF executives responsible for security at the group were also found guilty.

Pierre-Paul Francois was sentenced to three years in prison, with 30 months suspended, and Pascal Durieux was sentenced to three years with two years suspended and a 10,000 euro fine. Durieux's lawyer said he would appeal.

EDF and the two men were also ordered to pay 500,000 euros in damages to Greenpeace.

For his part the hacker, Quiros, was sentenced to two years in prison, of which 18 months will be suspended, and a fine of 4,000 euros.

The court also sentenced Thierry Lorho, a one-time agent with French spy agency DGSE and the former head of Kargus Consultants, to three years in prison, two of which will be suspended, and a 4,000 euro fine.

His associate Jean-Francois Dominguez, the former paratrooper, was given the same sentence.

Former Greenpeace campaigner Jadot said the ruling was a slap in the face to EDF, declaring: "This was a moral failure by a major company that has touted itself as ethical."

"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," Greenpeace France spokeswoman Adelaide Colin said in a statement.

"This case of EDF's spying should send another signal to any country considering building reactors that the nuclear industry can't be trusted," Colin said.

EDF lawyer Alexis Gublin said the company was considering whether to appeal.

Monique Dore, the lawyer acting for the French anti-doping agency, also hailed the ruling against Landis.

"It was important that Floyd Landis and his former trainer be found guilty, since they insulted everyone by refusing to come to the trial," she said.

Landis has quit racing, after finally admitting last year he took part in the doping that has blighted the sport in recent years.

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