On This Day — French Spooks Sink the Rainbow Warrior (July 10 1985) [UPDATE — France deliberately underestimated environmental impact of nuclear tests in Polynesia]

“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.

July 10 2019 — The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior — codenamed Opération Satanique — was a bombing operation by the Action branch of the French foreign intelligence services — La Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) — carried out on July 10 1985. In 2005, two decades after the bombing and nine years after Mitterrand’s death, French newspaper Le Monde published a leaked document revealing that the late president had personally approved the sinking of the ship. The newspaper obtained a handwritten account of the operation, written in 1986 by Pierre Lacoste, who was sacked as head of the secret services. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“You can’t erase 60 years of state propaganda, denial, intimidation, contempt and arrogance with a wave of the hand.”

Polynesian President Edouard Fritch (July 2021)

UPDATE (July 10 2021) — An investigation by independent journalists and researchers found that France hid the devastating impacts of its nuclear tests during the 1960s and 1970s.

France carried out 193 nuclear tests between 1960 and 1996, mostly on the atolls of Fangataufa and Mururoa. 

By studying the so-called “Mururoa Files” and interviewing dozens of people in both France and French Polynesia, the team reconstructed the radiation effects of three major nuclear tests: Aldébaran in 1966, Encelade in 1971, and Centaure in 1974.

They concluded that that France had underestimated the impact of the tests. Actual radiation levels were up to 10 times higher than those estimated by France’s Atomic Energy Commission in 2006.


“There is a particular clause in the heritage code which specifies that everything relating to nuclear power is incommunicable.”

Historian Renaud Meltz

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”.

“There was no state cover-up.”

Genevieve Darrieusseq — Junior defence minister (July 3 2021)

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]

“I think all military people who serve their countries can find themselves in situations they hadn’t wished for.”

Christine Cabon — Former DGSE Officer 


Christine Cabon (alias Frederique Bonlieu) — As a French secret service agent, Cabon infiltrated the Greenpeace office in April 1985 to obtain plans for the Rainbow Warrior’s Mururoa expedition. She left New Zealand on May 24 1985; at the time of the bombing she was in Israel. Auckland police asked Israeli authorities to arrest her, but she again skipped the country.

Chief Petty Officer Roland Verge (alias Raymond Velche) — The skipper of the yacht Ouvea was an army combat diver, seconded to the DGSE. His affair with the wife of a Whangarei policeman helped draw police attention to the yacht and its movements. Verge is now retired.

Petty Officer Jean-Michel Bartelo, alias Jean-Michel Berthelot — A DGSE combat diver, Bartelo was initially reported to be one of the frogmen who attached plastic-wrapped explosives to the hull to the ship. Now, his level of involvement is unclear. After a long career in the navy, he reportedly lives in the south of France and consults for offshore drilling companies.

Petty Officer Gerald Adries (aliases Eric Audrenc, Eric Andreine) — Andries, another combat frogman, purchased and shipped an inflatable and outboard motor from London for using in the bombing. Six years later he was arrested in Switzerland, but New Zealand informed Swiss authorities they would not seek his extradition, for fear of trade reprisals. Andries is now retired.

Dr Xavier Maniguet — Maniguet was one of the French residents aboard the yacht Ouvea, but initially claimed to be just a passenger. A doctor specialising in treating dive accident victims, he later wrote a book, The Jaws Of Death, that referred to his role in the Rainbow Warrior mission. Maniguet died in a small plane crash in 2009.

Major Alain Mafart (alias Alain Turenge) — Mafart was responsible for ground-based support to the sabotage team. He was arrested after arousing suspicions when returning a rental van. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Later he was deported to Hao Atoll in French Polynesia where he served 17 months before being smuggled back to Paris, where he received a promotion and France’s National Order of Merit. His autobiography blamed gossiping do-gooder New Zealanders for his arrest.

Captain Dominique Prieur (alias Sophie Turenge) — Prieur, who had studied activist groups like Greenpeace, travelled with Mafart posing as his wife. She too was arrested and sent to Hao, where her husband joined her. She was allowed to return to Paris in 1988 in contravention of the UN-brokered sentence, after becoming pregnant. In her book Secret Agent she expressed her horror at Fernando Pereira’s death. “For me, the death of a man was very hard to take.” She is now retired.

Colonel Louis-Pierre Dillais (alias Jean Louis Dormand — Dillais, who was in charge of the bombing mission on the night, reportedly drove the inflatable for the two divers. The son-in-law of former Foreign Minister Jean François-Poncet, on his return to France he was promoted to head of sensitive issues at the Defence Ministry and awarded the Legion of Honour. He left to work for an arms manufacturer.

Jean Cammas (alias Jacques Camurier) — Cammas was named by author Michael King as one of the bomber in his 1986 book Death of the Rainbow Warrior, an allegation that has been disputed by some media but reinforced by fellow diver Jean Luc Kister.

Gérard Royal –Royal, the brother of French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, reportedly admitted to his brother that he had planted the bombs. It is more likely, however, that he piloted the inflatable. After retiring from the army he moved into private sector intelligence services. Pereira’s daughter Marelle has called for him to be extradited to stand trial for murder, but the NZ government has repeated that the case as closed.

Colonel Jean Luc Kister (alias Alain Tonel) –Awarded the Légion of Honour in 1994, Kister left the army to take up a security advisory role for the UN. In retirement, he gave a 2015 interview to the TVNZ Sunday show in which he apologised for the bombing and Pereira’s death – the only agent to do so.

Colonel Jean-Claude Lesquer –Lesquer, the head of the DGSE’s Action unit, specialised in clandestine ops. Charged with the bombing, he lost his post over the scandal. But he climbed back through the ranks during the Gulf War and in 1995, he was promoted to major-general.

Admiral Henri Fages — As director of the Mururoa’s Nuclear test centre and chief of South Pacific French Fleet, he informed the French minister of defence about the Greenpeace threat and asked for an “intensification of intelligence gathering” to stop the Rainbow Warrior. Retired in June 1985, he was not involved in the affair.

Admiral Pierre Lacoste –The head of the secret service, Lacoste lost his job over the embarrassment caused to France by the mission. The newspaper Le Monde published extracts of a 1986 report in which he said he acted under the orders of President Francois Mitterrand himself.

Charles Hernu  –The Minister of Defence who ordered the mission, Hernu resigned when his role became public. Hernu died at the age of 66.

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.

UPDATE (July 10 2020) — Thirty five years ago today the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed in Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour by French secret agents in a blatant act of state terrorism, killing a photojournalist.

In 2005, two decades after the bombing and nine years after Mitterrand’s death, Le Monde published a leaked document revealing that the late president had personally approved the sinking of the ship.

The newspaper obtained a handwritten account of the operation, written in 1986 by Pierre Lacoste, who was sacked as head of the secret services.

He had testified that he had asked President Mitterrand for permission to “neutralise” the Rainbow Warrior at a meeting two months before the attack and would never have gone ahead without the president’s authorisation. [SPECIAL REPORT: By David Robie, who sailed on the original Rainbow Warrior ]



Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior — Wikipedia

Thirty-two years after the Rainbow Warrior bombing, unrepentant French spy Christine Cabon is found — STUFF


On This Day — French Spooks Sink the Rainbow Warrior — July 10 1985

On This Day — French Spooks Sink the Rainbow Warrior (July 10 1985) [2019]

35 Years Ago — French Spooks Sink the Rainbow Warrior (July 10 1985)

On This Day — French Spooks Sink the Rainbow Warrior (July 10 1985) [UPDATE — France deliberately underestimated environmental impact of nuclear tests in Polynesia]

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