On 24 and 25 January 2012, the multinational food-industry corporation Nestlé and the Swiss private security firm Securitas were in court in Lausanne, Switzerland, defending themselves against a civil suit for spying on the “anti-globalization” movement ATTAC. This trial, which has been delayed for a long time, has finally lift the veil of secrecy that has been draped over this spying scandal.
Nestlé and Securitas are accused of illegal surveillance and violations of privacy of ATTAC and its members. The charges were filed after Télévision Suisse Romande revealed on 12 June 2008 that a group of ATTAC members in Canton Vaud, who were working on a book on Nestlé’s policies, had been infiltrated and spied on by a Securitas employee on behalf of Nestlé. The woman joined the ATTAC group in 2003 under the false name “Sara Meylan”, attended working meetings (sometimes in the homes of members), and prepared detailed reports on them for Nestlé. As a member of the group, she had access to internal information, and to all the research by the authors, and to their sources and contacts, both in Switzerland and abroad.
On 26 September 2008, the plaintiffs denounced to the examining magistrate another Securitas spy, who was still active in ATTAC in 2008 under her real name. Nestlé and Securitas had claimed initially that the spying had been ended with the departure of “Sara Meylan” in June 2004. When this second secret agent was discovered, the companies said that this agent had not written any more confidential reports for Securitas and Nestlé since 2005.
The criminal proceedings were dropped on 29 July 2009 after a faulty investigation. The Canton examining magistrate at the time accepted the statements by Nestlé and Securitas and gave as one reason for dismissing the case the three-year statute of limitation of the Data Privacy Act – although the second Nestlé-Securitas agent had still been active in ATTAC in 2008!