France is top industrial espionage offender
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France is worse than China or Russia when it comes to stealing industrial secrets, the head of a German satellite company has been quoted as saying in a WikiLeaks cable made public Tuesday.
AFP - France is the top offender when it comes to industrial espionage, and is even worse than China and Russia, the head of a German company was quoted as saying in a leaked US diplomatic cable made public Tuesday.
"France is the evil empire (in) stealing technology, and Germany knows this," Berry Smutny, the head of German satellite company OHB Technology, was quoted as saying in the diplomatic note obtained by WikiLeaks and released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
Germany, with its decentralised government, was however not willing to do much to counter French industrial espionage activities, he was paraphrased as saying.
"Going on at length of his (disdain) of the French, Smutny said French IPR (intellectual property rights) espionage is so bad that the total damage done to the German economy is greater than that inflicted by China or Russia," read the cable, dated November 20, 2009.
OHB Technology became known to the general public in January 2010 when it obtained a contract for the construction of several satellites for the Galileo satellite navigation system, a much-delayed European challenger to the American-developed Global Positioning System (GPS).
The small German firm won the bid for the contract over Astrium, a subsidiary of pan-European giant EADS.
OHB is also the main contractor of the German programme of High Resolution Optical Satellite System (HiROS).
"The original plan was for EADS-Astrium in Friedrichshafen, Germany in partnership with the German Space Agency (DLR) to design, build and operate the HiROS," read the cable published by Aftenposten Tuesday.
"However, when it became obvious to DLR and German Astrium officials that France, through its influence in EADS-Astrium, would attempt to scuttle the project for fear that HiROS would compete with French commercial satellite business, the decision was made to bring OHB-System on board as the primary contractor," it added.
A leaked US cable posted Monday by Aftenposten revealed that behind its commercial facade, the HiROS programme had military aims.
Germany, the cables said, was trying to develop an optical observation-based satellite spy system with Washington's help despite objections from France, which is leading pan-European efforts in the field with its Helios satellites.
A DLR spokesman denied the information.
WikiLeaks has so far only made public around 2,000 of the some 250,000 cables in its possession, in cooperation with publications El Pais, The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel.
The Norwegian daily of reference Aftenposten however said last month it had obtained all the diplomatic documents and would publish stories based on them independently of WikiLeaks' own releases.
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