Radio Says Two Arrested In New Zealand Are Army Officers With AM-Pacific Treaty
PARIS (AP) _ A government-owned French radio station said Saturday that a man and a woman arrested in connection with the bombing of a Greenpeace ship docked at Auckland, New Zealand were French army officers.
Authorities in Auckland arrested the French-speaking pair after the July 10 sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. The two were charged with murder and arson in connection with the explosion on the environmental group’s flagship. A photographer was killed in the explosion.
Gilbert Picard, a journalist for the France Inter station, said the French Defense Ministry had sent the two, Jacques Alain Turenge, 34, and Sophie Claire Turenge, 36, to New Zealand to keep watch over Greenpeace operations and protect French nuclear testing.
He said their mission did not include attacking the ship, which planned to lead a protest against nuclear tests near Muroroa atoll in the South Pacific.
The radio station said the Turenges carried Swiss passports, because ″the Greenpeace organization and the New Zealanders distrust everything French.″
France Inter did not reveal the source of its information. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry refused to comment, saying only that an investigation has been ordered and ″we are awaiting its conclusions.″
Two French publications have alleged that French intelligence agents were involved in the the Greenpeace explosion, which resulted from two bombs attacked to the hull of the ship.
France Inter said Sophie Turenge was a French army captain and Jacques Turenge a battalion commander. The Turenges’ relationship was not known.
Picard said the Turenges were under precise orders, to watch the Greenpeace ship, to identify the protesters, and to provide French authorities with information in the event France decided to deploy forces to halt the Greenpeace ships.
Picard said the Rainbow Warrior had ″extremely sophisticated″ surveillance material aboard. He said the sinking was not carried out by the French but by ″foreign secret services who have an interest in discrediting France in this region of the world.″
He did not elaborate on why French army officers would be working for a foreign secret service or which secret service would be involved.
President Francois Mitterrand ordered a ″rigorous investigation″ into the case and vowed to punish severely any citizens found to be involved.
Prime Minister David Lange of New Zealand said Saturday he had no proof the French secret service was involved, but said Mitterrand’s decision to order an investigation was ″appropriate.″