Remembering the Rainbow Warrior — 10 July 1985

“The truth is cruel. Agents of the French secret service sank this boat. They were acting on orders.”

Prime Minister Laurent Fabius — September 22 1985

Fernando Pereira died aboard the Rainbow Warrior.

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior — codenamed Opération Satanique — was a bombing operation by the “action” branch of the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure (DGSE), carried out on 10 July 1985. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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During the operation, two operatives sank the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior in the port of Auckland, New Zealand on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa. Fernando Pereira, a photographer, drowned on the sinking ship.

The French embassy in Wellington denied involvement, stating that:

“The French Government does not deal with its opponents in such ways”.

But two French agents were captured by New Zealand Police and charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, willful damage, and murder. As the truth came out, the scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu.

The two agents pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten years in prison. They spent just over two years confined to the French island of Hao before being freed by the French government. [Wikipedia]

Christine Cabon aka Frederique Bonlieu

Christine Cabon, who was 33 at the time, escaped arrest after seeming to disappear into thin air. Cabon had posed as Frederique Bonlieu a French geomorphologist, and had joined Greenpeace’s team in New Zealand after showing them a letter of introduction by Greenpeace’s London office. Upon joining the environmentalist group, Cabon’s mission was to access the Rainbow Warrior’s itinerary and facilitate its sinking by the DGSE. It was Cabon who gave the French spy agency the details of the ship’s whereabouts, thus enabling her comrades to bomb it. When it was bombed, on July 10, 1985, Cabon was in Israel, having left New Zealand on May 24. Soon after the ship’s bombing, New Zealand police discovered her whereabouts and sent a group of police officers to Israel to arrest her. But they arrived too late, as Cabon was already onboard an Air France flight heading to Paris.

After that time, Cabon practically disappeared. Until yesterday, when New Zealand’s Fairfax news agency revealed that its journalists had traced her to the French alpine village of Lasseubetat, near the Spanish border. In an article published on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior’s bombing, the news agency said that Cabon was given an office job by the DGSE after her cover was essentially blown in New Zealand. She eventually left the spy agency and joined the French Army before retiring.

After she was contacted by Fairfax reporters, Cabon agreed to speak to them. In an interview from her home in the French Pyrénées, Cabon agreed that the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior must have shocked public opinion in New Zealand. “They were attacked by a friendly country”, she said. However, the former spy added that her “job was what it was”, and noted that “all military people, who serve their country, often find themselves in situations that they have not wished for”. [IntelNews]

French Agent Breaks Silence on Bombing Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior

Thirty years ago, French secret service blew up Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior ship in Auckland, New Zealand, killing a Portuguese photographer, as the ship was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific.

Now the French intelligence agent who led the deadly attack has come forward for the first time to apologize for his actions, breaking his silence after 30 years. On July 10, 1985, Jean-Luc Kister led the dive team that planted the bombs on the Rainbow Warrior that sunk the ship and killed Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira.

REFERENCES

Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior — Wikipedia

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Remembering the Rainbow Warrior — 10 July 1985

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