MI6 'firm' spied on green groups
Sunday Times, 17 6 01
WITH his shoulder-length hair tumbling over the collar of a leather jacket and clutching a video camera, Manfred Schlickenrieder cut a familiar figure among left-wing political parties and environmental groups across Europe for almost 20 years.
Whenever there was a campaign being organised, he was there to make a "sympathetic" documentary. His political credentials seemed impeccable: he had once been chairman of the Munich branch of the German Communist party and the bookshelves of his office held the works of Bertolt Brecht, the Marxist playwright and poet.
Behind the facade, however, Schlickenrieder was a spy working for both the German secret service and for Hakluyt, a private intelligence agency based in London's West End and set up by former officers of MI6, the secret intelligence service. His codename was Camus after Albert Camus, the existentialist author of L'Etranger.
Hakluyt paid him thousands of pounds to inform on the activities of Greenpeace, Anita Roddick's Body Shop and other environmental campaigners. The BND, the German equivalent of MI6, allededly paid him £3,125 a month living expenses.
The rewards of espionage brought him a spacious flat overlooking a park in Munich and a BMW Z3, the sports car driven by Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye.
The spying operation for Hakluyt began in April 1996, when Mike Reynolds, one of the agency's directors and a former MI6 head of station in Germany, was asked by Shell to find out who was orchestrating threats against its petrol forecourts across Europe.
The threats followed an outcry over the oil giant's attempts in 1995 to dump the disused Brent Spar oil platform at sea and allegations of environmental damage caused by its oil drilling in Ogoniland, Nigeria.
Schlickenrieder approached environmental groups and far-left organisations including Revolutionärer Aufbau, a Zurichbased communist group. He was finally betrayed to the group by a female colleague.
Last week Shell confirmed it was Hakluyt's client until December 1996. The company said that some of its petrol stations in Germany had been firebombed or shot at. "We did talk to Hakluyt about what intelligence they could gather," said Mike Hogan, director of media relations at Shell UK.
In May 1997, Reynolds asked the German spy for information on whether there were legal moves within Greenpeace to protect its assets against sequestration in the event of it being sued by an oil company. Two months later, Greenpeace occupied BP's Stena Dee oil installation off the Shetland islands in an unsuccessful publicity stunt to stop oil drilling in a new part of the Atlantic. Schlickenrieder sent a report saying that Greenpeace was disappointed with its campaign.
He sent an invoice to Hakluyt on June 6, 1997, billing the agency for DM20,000 (pounds6,250) for "Greenpeace research".
BP confirmed it had hired Hakluyt, but said it had asked the company to compile a report based only on published sources of information. BP has longstanding links with MI6. John Gerson, BP's director of government and public affairs, was at one time a leading candidate to succeed Sir David Spedding as head of MI6.
Schlickenrieder continued working for Hakluyt until 1999. He made a film on Shell in Nigeria called Business as Usual: the Arrogance of Power, during which he interviewed friends of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nobel prize nominee, who was hanged by the military regime in 1995 after leading a campaign against oil exploration.
Schlickenrieder sent a letter to a Body Shop executive saying he had been researching the activities of Shell in Nigeria, and asked about plans for further activities. Greenpeace said yesterday that Schlickenrieder's activities had effectively sunk its campaign against BP's oil exploration in the Atlantic.
Fouad Hamdan, communications director of Greenpeace Germany, said: "The bastard was good, I have to admit.
"He got information about our planned Atlantic Frontier campaign to focus on the climate change issue and the responsibility of BP. BP knew everything. They were not taken by surprise." He added: "Manfred filmed and interviewed all the time, but now we realise we never saw anything."
LATEST CONTACTS FOR PETITIONING INDIAN GOVERNMENT & *EXAMPLE MESSAGE*
Please fax (or email if you have no fax) these people today (see EXAMPLE message below)
Your (or your organisation's) own personal message is obviously best but if short of time see example below:
We understand from NGOs in India that there is tremendous pressure on Indian bureaucrats and scientists to approve Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt transgenic cotton for commercialisation. Many farming and welfare organisations in India have grave concerns about the social and economic impact of genetically modified cotton on the poor. These crops will not benefit small farmers and landless workers but only destroy their jobs and increase the gap between rich and poor. Many also have concerns about the impact of this crop on their environment and on the health of animals eating seed products from these crops.
We agree with the calls from Indian farmers' unions and other NGOs for full public debate, free exchange of information, proper safety research and careful assessment of the socio-economic impact of these crops before any approval is considered. We understand that the India Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has already demanded that such precautions are taken. We support the ICAR's requirements for proper research prior to commercialisation
The approval should not be rushed through without time to consult farmers or properly assess the potentially disastrous environmental, socio-economic and health impact for India.
We understand an official press release by the Press Information Bureau last year had listed ICAR's concerns and quoted the Ministry oficials as saying that these would be studied. To ignore ICAR's environmental and social concerns would surely constitute a cruel FRAUD on the Indian people.
We understand Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar said recently that all aspects of the issue would be carefully examined prior to any question of GM cotton cultivation. The important socio-economic, environmental safety and health considerations must not be pushed to one side in the rush to commercialisation.
In a presentation to the GEAC last year, the India Council of Agriculture Research suggested further detailed studies were required, to include:
* nutritional studies on buffaloes and cows
* studies on the development of resistance of other plant pests
* toxicity studies on other animal species like poultry and fish under Indian conditions
* studies on the stability of Cry 1Ac gene;
* studies on gene flow and pollen dispersal and an assessment of the impact of such a migration on non-transgenic cotton
* a report from Indian laboratories to determine Bt seeds do not contain the controversial terminator gene
* a study to generate socio-economic data like the cost of transgenic cottonseed, projected demand, and the area to be covered under transgenic cotton cultivation.
India is a country with a respected reputation for democracy. We encourage you to stand up to bullying by biotechnology corporations, the United States and the World Trade Organisation and to defend the interests of millions of poor farmers and the health of your citizens and your environment. We ask you to listen to these people, to consult widely and to carefully evaluate these crops instead of being forced into a rushed decision that could harm your nation.
Please act cautiously and wisely and do not approve Mahyco-Monsanto's GM cotton without proper evaluation and debate.