Skip to comments.French fingered MI6 over bomb
Posted on 11/30/2005 1:04:45 PM PST by Hunden
LONDON The French government tried to blame the 1985 sinking of Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior on British spy agency MI6, according to official documents released under freedom of information.
The campaign of misinformation and smears - suggesting MI6 bombed the ship in New Zealand and framed French secret agents, or that MI6 knew in advance of the French mission infuriated Margaret Thatcher's government.
The documents, released under Britain's Freedom of Information Act to The Guardian newspaper, show how Malcolm Rifkind, then a Foreign Office minister, told British diplomats in Paris to demand an end to the "campaign of misinformation".
But the stories continued to appear, with Whitehall suspecting that the "mischievous" French embassy in London was spreading them.
John Fretwell, the British ambassador in Paris, privately warned London that president Francois Mitterrand could be forced to resign in a Watergate-style scandal.
He wrote: "The highest personalities in the land are fighting for political survival and even the fabric of the state is beginning to shake under the impact of repeated revelations, denunciations, attempts to acknowledge bits of truth while concealing others ... and the desperate attempts to find answers which will somehow satisfy public opinion while keeping the president above the melee."
Soon after the bombing in July 1985, French media reported the theory that MI6 had sunk the Rainbow Warrior to discredit France and had then framed French secret agents. In other versions, French media claimed French secret agents had bought the dinghies used to plant the bombs from people close to MI6 and that MI6 had prior knowledge of the planned sabotage.
By late August, The Sunday Times was telling the Foreign Office that "French official sources were briefing freely 'anyone who would listen' about British involvement in the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior". The British government told reporters off the record that the stories were "pure fantasy".
Foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe said he was "disturbed" that stories still appeared after he had complained to his French counterpart.
Two French secret service agents, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, were found guilty of helping to bomb the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985, killing photographer Fernando Pereira.
The pair were sentenced to 10 years' jail for their part in the bombing. They were transferred to Hao Atoll in the Pacific in July 1986 and repatriated to France soon after.
The scandal rocked the French government, which initially denied responsibility for the bombing. Mitterrand sacked his defence minister Charles Hernu and the head of the secret service, Admiral Pierre Lacoste. According to a leaked memo from Lacoste published in Le Monde this year, Mitterrand authorised the bombing because he wanted to stop Greenpeace disrupting French nuclear weapon tests in the Pacific.
well? the french HAD to find somebody to blame - it ruined their perfect record of 100% surrendering - i mean they probably didn't expect to actually win this one, could they?
The French waged war against peace activists and STILL lost!
How pathetic is THAT?
Sounds like an act of terrorism to me!
These Clouseau french weasel spies were spoted coz they did not know how to speak English while in NewZealand...