The Greenpeace Affair (Sophie Merveilleux du Vignaux)

The Greenpeace Affair (Sophie Merveilleux du Vignaux)

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On the night of July 10, 1985, a ship of the environmental association Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, is sunk in the port of Auckland by the Turenge couple, two agents of the DGSE, the French secret services. A look back at this case fraught with political, military and diplomatic consequences, in this work published by Éditions Ouest-France.

The direct consequences of the Rainbow Warrior Affair

Politicians have often been very tempted by the clandestine and secret means that the intelligence services could offer. Faced with the demonstrations of Greenpeace against the French nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean, Charles Hernu, Minister of Defense at the time, therefore opts for a radical solution: to sink the Rainbow Warrior, ship of the environmental association Greenpeace. Only, quickly, the scandal bursts and is diffused in the press. From September 1985, two months after the operation, Charles Hernu, who had taken the decision without referring it to the President of the Republic François Mitterrand, was forced to resign. The director of the DGSE, Admiral Pierre Lacoste, was dismissed from his post shortly after. On the other hand, the affair had direct consequences on relations between France and New Zealand.

Study the mechanisms of the scandal

Published by Editions Ouest-France, this work is part of the “Espionage” collection, sponsored in particular by the CF2R - French Intelligence Research Center - a research and training organization in the field of intelligence. Due to the fairly recent nature of the event, no archive could be processed. This is why the author has chosen above all to focus on the mechanisms which were able to transform this operation by the DGSE into a real political scandal.

Nothing is worse, for a secret service, that its operations are made public. It seemed easy for the press to reactivate the eternal clichés on the secret services, which would only welcome within them “barbouzes”, without faith or law. On the other hand, this case questions political interference in the field of intelligence, and therefore questions the nature of the links, sometimes complex, between the political world, whose action is based in theory on transparency vis-à-vis public opinion, and other the domain of intelligence, murky and opaque.

While we cannot grasp all the dimensions of this affair for the moment, the angle chosen by the author, namely the analysis of his treatment in the media sphere, is no less relevant and brings a new lighting.

The Greenpeace affair, by Sophie Merveilleux. West France Editions, 2013.

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