Last Fall Greenpeace USA filed suit in federal court in the District of Columbia alleging that Dow Chemical Company, Sasol North America, and their public relations companies Ketchum Inc. and Dezenhall Resources, Ltd., as well as various individuals, had engaged in corporate espionage activities against the environmental group. The suit is currently working its way through the court.
Greenpeace alleges that “between 1998 and 2000, defendants conspired to and did surveil, infiltrate and steal confidential information from Greenpeace with the intention of preempting, blunting or thwarting its environmental campaigns. These unlawful activities included trespassing on the property of Greenpeace, infiltrating its offices, meetings and electronic communications under false pretenses and/or by force, and by these means, stealing confidential documents, data and trade secrets from Greenpeace.”
The suit is brought under the The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Greenpeace USA is seeking an injunction to prevent such activity by the defendants in the future as well as an amount of damages to be established.
Greenpeace suggests that the infiltration and theft of documents may have taken place so that the companies could gather information about, and attempt to influence, its environmental campaigns against vinyl chloride and genetically modified organisms.
Greenpeace USA also alleges that other groups and individuals, including Center for Food Safety, Friends ofthe Earth, GE Food Alert, and the National Environmental Trust were targeted in a similar way. The suit does not mention any Canadian groups and does not present any evidence that Canadian groups, activists or scientists were similarly targeted.
Gallon Environment Letter will be following the court case and will report on the outcomes.
There is additional background information pertinent to this case in Mother Jones magazine at http://motherjones.com/environment/2010/11/greenpeace-sues-dow-sasol-dezenhall-ketchum-spying
The Greenpeace USA complaint can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/usa/planet3/PDFs/SpyGate/GP%20Complaint,%20final%20revised%2010%2029%2010.pdf