Today, Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical, Sasol North America (which owns CONDEA Vista), and PR firms Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum, for hiring private investigators to steal documents from Greenpeace, tap our phones and hack into our computers.

The purpose of this lawsuit is twofold.

First, we aim to put a dent in the arrogance of these corporate renegades who have for too long believed that ethics do not apply to their pursuit of ever-higher profits.

Second, we believe it is every citizen’s right to stand up for the health of their children and community without fearing retribution, an invasion of privacy, conspiracy against them or theft of their belongings. We believe Dow and Sasol conspired to do this to Greenpeace; we aim to stop this before it happens to you.

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Boxes of files from the security firm hired by Dezenhall Resources and Ketchum on behalf of Dow, Sasol North America, and other companies, reveal daily logs, emails, reports, phone records and other evidence that shows what these corporations were working to disrupt: the private lives of community members in Louisiana fighting to keep their communities free of toxic poisons and community meetings and efforts to educate the public about the public health threats posed by these companies. [see a sample of these files here]

The public relations firms involved – including Nichols Dezenhall (now known as Dezenhall Resources) and Ketchum – acted as intermediaries between the chemical companies and the private investigator spies.

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While Greenpeace can only sue on our own behalf, we do so to send a message to any big corporation that plans to spy on, intimidate and interfere with communities fighting for a better world for their children. People among the communities in this case are residents of Mossville and Lake Charles, Louisiana, who suffer high rates of cancer and other health effects linked to the production processes of the companies we’re suing.

This case concerns events that occurred between 1998 and 2001. Many of the affected people in Lake Charles and Mossville have since died, many by cancers they believe were caused by the toxic pollutants these companies pumped into their environment.

Greenpeace works to protect the environment we all depend on, rooted in the assumption that politicians and corporations care about two things – money and people (either voters or customers).

We know we won’t match polluters dollar for dollar, but have matched their millions over the years with three million people behind us. When Goliath corporations go beyond buying elections to intimidating, infiltrating and invading the privacy of small citizen groups, they are attacking more than that group. When corporations hire private spies to undermine the rights of civic leaders, they are undermining democracy.

We’ll see them in court.

Go to Greenpeace’s Spygate website to see a sampling of the evidence used to support this lawsuit.