Greenpeace Aotearoa is calling on the Austrian Government to explain why OMV, a state controlled oil company, has been using the notorious Thompson & Clark spy agency to actively thwart legitimate climate protests in New Zealand.
This comes after new information released by journalist Nicky Hager revealed Austrian oil giant OMV has been the main client paying the private investigation firm Thompson and Clark to spy on the climate movement over a number of years, and to undermine their efforts to organise peaceful climate protest. The targets have included student climate strikers, Greenpeace and others.
"This is a new low for OMV and the oil industry. Peaceful protest and climate activism are vital in a healthy democracy and for our collective efforts to avert climate catastrophe," says Greenpeace Aotearoa Executive Director.
"To be applying this stasi-like surveillance to students using legitimate peaceful protest in the fight for their future, is unconscionable.
"They danced the macarena, they marched in the streets and they peacefully occupied the OMV site in New Plymouth with sleeping bags and banners, they didn’t deserve to be spied on in this way."
Greenpeace is calling on the Austrian Government to hold the OMV’s CEO Rainer Seele accountable and demand his resignation.
The use of Thompson and Clark by government agencies was the subject of a 2018 State Services Commission Inquiry. This resulted in a directive to all New Zealand Government agencies that they were not to use Thompson and Clark because of their efforts to undermine legitimate protest. Hence, when OMV contracted Thompson and Clark to target the climate movement, they did so in full knowledge of their anti-democratic practises.
OMV is now also under the spotlight in Austria for using similar tactics to monitor Greenpeace and School Strike organisers using ‘Welund’, a company founded by a former MI6 agent. Austria's Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler has demanded immediate clarification from OMV boss Rainer Seele on the matter.