national grid

The head of nuclear security at French energy giant EDF has been given a prison sentence and his company fined a stinging 1.5 million euros (£1.3 million) after being found guilty of spying on environmental campaigners Greenpeace using Trojan malware.

The company that runs 58 nuclear power stations in France and 8 in the UK, EDF, was alleged to have set out in 2006 to spy on the Greenpeace's then head of campaigns in France, Yannick Jadot.

The firm employed to carry carried out this surveillance, Kargus Consultants, was said to have used Trojans to attack Jadot's computer, stealing 1,400 documents relating to the organisation's campaign against nuclear power.

The court in Nanterre handed EDF's former security head, Pascal Durieux, a three-year jail sentence with one suspended, while his deputy Pierre-Paul Franois was given three years with 30 months suspended.

The head of Kargus, Thierry Lorho, was given three years in jail with two suspended and a 4,000 euro fine while his technical expert and former secret service man, Alain Quiros, was given two years suspended.

"The evidence presented at the trial showed that the espionage undertaken by EDF in its efforts to discredit Greenpeace was both extensive and totally illegal. The company should now give a full account of the spying operation it mounted against its critics," said Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven.

The case is extraordinary on a number of fronts, starting with the size of the fine, one of the largest ever imposed by a court on a French corporate for any reason.

The backgrounds of some of those found guilty has also caused embarrassment; Pascal Durieux was a Rear Admiral in the French Navy before working for EDF while Pierre-Paul Francois worked as a policeman.

EDF Energy overcharges customers through meter system error

Adding to the intrigue, the same French court this week sentenced Quiroz of Kargus Consultants to six months in prison and a 4,000 euro fine for using the same Trojan technique to spy on a French anti-doping lab, allegedly on behalf of disgraced US cycling star Floyd Landis.

The cyclist has denied the allegation but was handed a 12-month suspended sentence by the court.