Press release issued by ATTAC Switzerland, 26 January 2013
(English translation provided by ATTAC Switzerland – click here for German version)
[Media coverage: Le Courrier 26 January – Background from Baby Milk Action]
ATTAC Switzerland has taken notice with great satisfaction of the civil court’s president Jean-Luc Genillard’s decision of 25 January 2013 in the case «Nestlegate». The Court has convicted NESTLE and SECURITAS AG of spying activities directed at ATTAC. It has recognized that these parties conducted illegal infiltrations. The claimants have been entitled to a financial compensation, since their personal rights have been violated. NESTLE and SECURITAS AG have been ordered to pay a financial compensation of 3,000 Swiss francs (3,238 US dollars) per claimant (a total of 27,000 Swiss francs = 29,145 US dollars = £18,570).
Both a criminal and a civil case were filed after Swiss television revealed on 12 June 2008 that an Attac workgroup in Canton Vaud, which was preparing a book on Nestle’s policies («Attac contre l’empire Nestle», 2004), had been infiltrated and spied on by a Securitas employee on behalf of Nestle. The woman had joined the Attac workgroup in 2003 under the false name of “Sara Meylan”, had attended private meetings (sometimes at the members’ homes), gathered confidential information and prepared detailed reports on the authors as well as on third parties for Nestle. On September 26th, 2008, Attac discovered and denounced to the examining magistrate another Securitas spy, who was still active in Attac in 2008 under her real name.
The criminal proceedings were dropped on July 29th, 2009. The investigating judge mainly relied on the statements made by Nestle and Securitas AG and found that the only infringement that may constitute an offense – a violation of the federal law of data protection – falls under the three-year statute of limitation. We regret the superficial investigation conducted during this criminal investigation, which Alec Feuz has well documented in his book « Affaire classée».
We are very satisfied that the civil court has now condemned NESTLE’s and SECURITAS AG’s spying activities. Nevertheless we’d like to point out that we are continuing to critically observe the worldwide activities of multinational corporations like NESTLE, especially concerning its hostile trade union policies and the excessive pumping of groundwater in different parts of the world.
Through a general increase of espionage and spying activities, basic democratic rights like the freedom of opinion, the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly are called into question. The activities of NGOs, trade unions and critical political organizations are limited by private corporations, which perceive non-violent campaigns and action from civil society as a threat to their commercial interests. These transnational corporations thus try to reduce basic democratic rights and often profit from the fact that the State turns a blind eye to these infringements.
It is important to be able to fight for a just and egalitarian society, to oppose injustice around the world by means of free and independent research into the dealings of transnational corporations, without being surveyed or spied on.