© SecurityNewsDailyThe Cattenom nuclear power facility in northeastern France. Credit: Stefan Kuehn, Creative Commons
The French utility company EDF has been fined €1.5 million (more than $2 million) for hacking into the computer networks of Greenpeace.

The world's biggest nuclear energy supplier, the mostly-state-owned EDF (Électricité de France S.A) was charged with concealing stolen documents and illegal computer intrusion after hiring a Paris-based detective agency in 2006 to snoop on Greenpeace's computers in an effort to investigate, and ultimately thwart, the environmental group's plan to block EDF from building new nuclear plants in the United Kingdom.

EDF owns the U.K. nuclear power operator British Energy, and is a major sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics. The Guardian reported that EDF and Greenpeace have been engaged in a fight for years over France's power production.

Pascal Durieux, EDF's head of nuclear production security in 2006, was handed a three-year sentence with two years suspended and a €10,000 fine (about $13,000) for commissioning the spying, the Guardian reported. The ruling, imposed in a French court on Nov. 10, mandated also that EDF pay €500,000 (about $680,000) in damages to Greenpeace.

At the crux of this case is the Paris-based detective agency Kargus Consultants. Headed by Thierry Lorho, a former member of France's secret service, the firm orchestrated the network intrusion that netted 1,400 confidential documents, including private emails, from the computer of Yannick Jadot, Greenpeace's campaigns director at the time. Lorho used a Trojan Horse to infect Jadot's computer with spyware.

"The fine against EDF and the damages awarded to Greenpeace send a strong message to the nuclear industry that no one is above the law," Adelaide Colin, Greenpeace's executive director in France, said in a press release. "This case should send a signal to any country considering building reactors with EDF that the company can't be trusted. Instead of working with the nuclear industry, countries should invest in clean, safe sources of renewable electricity."

In the same court session, Lorho was also found guilty of hacking the computer systems of a French anti-doping lab. He had been allegedly acting on orders from disgraced U.S. cyclist Floyd Landis in the athlete's bid to clear his name with the international sports community using forged documents.

Lorho received a three-year jail sentence with two years suspended and was ordered to pay a €4,000 fine.