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Press release, ATTAC Switzerland, 26.1.2013

Nestlégate: success in civil lawsuit against NESTLÉ and SECURITAS

Monday 28 January 2013

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français]

ATTAC Switzerland welcomes the decision by civil law court president Jean-Luc Genillard on January 25, 2013 in the case known as "Nestlégate". The High Court of Justice condemned NESTLÉ and SECURITAS for their spying activities directed at ATTAC, and recognised that the activities undertaken by these parties are to be considered as illegal infiltrations. Based on the finding that the claimants’ personal rights were violated, compensation has been granted. NESTLÉ and SECURITAS have been ordered to pay a financial compensation of CHF 3000 per person.

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 law court condemned NESTLÉ’s and SECURITAS’ espionage. Nevertheless we would like to assure that we are continuing to critically observe the worldwide intrigues of multinational corporations such as NESTLÉ, especially concerning its hostile trade union policies and the excessive pumping of groundwater resources in various parts of the world.

Finally, we would like to emphasise that "Nestlégate" reveals problems far exceeding this particular affair. Between 2003 and 2005 an anti-repression group in Lausanne was victim of infiltration, as are other people and groups in Switzerland and abroad. In this context we repeatedly like to point out the major failures we witnessed in the criminal trial against NESTLÉ and SECURITAS in 2008. The details and shortfalls of this trial are well documented in Alec Feuz’s book "Affaire classée".

Through an increase in espionage and spying activities, basic democratic rights such as freedom of opinion, expression and assembly are put into question. The activities of NGOs, trade unions and outspoken political organisations are fought by private corporations, who perceive non-violent campaigns and actions by civil society as a threat to their commercial interests. These transnational corporations thus try to reduce basic democratic rights and often benefit from the complicity of the state or at least its passivity.

It is fundamental to be able to engage for a just and egalitarian society, to fight against the scandalous injustices throughout the world by means of free and independent research into the dealings of transnational corporations, without their surveillance or espionage.