Five Corporations Hire Two Intelligence Firms to Spy on Activists

The Guardian exposes corporate espionage against human rights groups

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Story Transcript

SHIR HEVER: A new revelation by the Guardian, based on leaked documents, exposes a widespread project of large corporations to spy on human rights and environmental groups. Caterpillar used informant group to spy on Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2003 as she was attempting to prevent a house demolition and was crushed to death by a Caterpillar bulldozer.

CINDY CORRIE: We were approached, I think a couple years ago, by one of the main authors of the article that appeared recently in the Guardian by Rob Evans, and he informed us that they had gained papers that had been leaked that indicated that Caterpillar had purchased information from an agency that was providing information that had listened in to a phone conversation that I was doing with members of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, formerly the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

SHIR HEVER: The corporations involved are British Airways, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Porsche, RWE and Caterpillar. British Airways, Royal Bank of Scotland and Porsche hired the C2i International Private Intelligence Company to spy on activists. Meanwhile, Caterpillar and RWE procured the services of the Increment Group, Intelligence Company.

CRAIG CORRIE: You know, when we found out that our daughter was crushed by a Caterpillar bulldozer, that’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen to you. And I think one of the things that our whole family wanted is for something like that to not happen to another family. We approached Caterpillar because we found out that they had known that their bulldozers were being used as this fashion. And we approached Caterpillar asking them to get out of the business of supplying these weaponized bulldozers to the Israeli military to destroy the homes of the Palestinian families and in doing so, often kill or maim people that are in those homes.

So we had gone to Caterpillar, that is we had written a letter to them. We actually went to Peoria and, it was in a march, so there were people out on the street, but we asked to meet in person with their chairman, and we were refused. We also actually went to a shareholders meeting and got to vote the shares, very few shares I believe, of a group that had purchased those shares simply to be able to go into a meeting and talk to their Board of Directors. And again, asking them to get outta this business.

So in a way, when we heard that Caterpillar was paying people to spy on fairly open information, but, and we don’t know of course what we don’t know. We don’t know how they might have been spying in some other way. It’s doubly disappointing, it’s upsetting that somebody would be listening in on a conversation and pretending to be somebody they are not. But also, while they’re spying on us, they’re not listening. They’re not listening to what we’re telling them. And of course, our lawsuit was brought, not because somebody did something bad with their product. It was brought because they continued to sell and service the product after they knew something was being done that’s, under International Law, illegal. And of course, immoral. So they continued to operate on this.

SHIR HEVER: The five corporations use intelligence companies to infiltrate environmental groups as well, such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and campaigners against phone masts. Spies hired by C2i International and the Increment Group pretended to join as activists and proceeded to steal emails and meeting records. As of now, no legal action has been initiated against the seven companies involved in the violation of privacy of the activist groups.