Tuesday 31 January 2012
In France, the Ministry of the Interior’s intelligence service is going to war with Anonymous. Last week two alleged members were arrested as part of an investigation into Operation Greenrights. “Owni.eu” spoke exclusively with Pierrick Goujon, one of those interrogated.
On Friday of last week, “Owni” talked at length with Pierrick Goujon, 29, known online as Triskel. The Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI), the intelligence agency of the French Interior Ministry, suspects Pierrick of being a member of Anonymous, the hactivist movement characterised by its lack of hierarchy, structure and official membership. Last week, following 45 hours in custody, and a further 15 hours waiting in a Parisian prison cell, Pierrick Goujon was charged. According to the terms of his probation, (viewable in part below), he is accused:
of participating, throughout 2011 and under the banner of “Anonymous”, in the “Greenrights” campaign, an orchestrated agreement to conduct denial of service attacks against producers / distributors of electricity.
The Greenrights campaign was carried out by Internet users in France, Germany, Italy and the United States, in protest against industrial societies’ reliance on nuclear energy, in the wake of Fukushima. Another man was arrested and questioned by the DCRI alongside Pierrick Goujon, and charged for the same offenses. The DCRI are currently at the centre of a number of political scandals in France related to their alleged surveillance of journalists, and described in the recently published book L’espion du president (The President’s Spy).
Tuesday, January 24, 7am: Pierrick Goujon is awakened by the sound of his cell-phone ringing. Not used to waking up so early, he cancels the call and sets his phone to silent. Ten minutes later, his friend’s phone rings. An aggressive, authoritative voice is on the other end:
Hello, this is the police. We are outside your home, where are you?
Uh, I’m at my girlfriend’s place, in Pontivy.
We want to talk to you, come here. If you are not here in 30 minutes we’re coming to Pontivy.
Pierrick then phones the police, to check it isn’t a hoax. The on-duty officer tells him he’s not aware of any operation. “Don’t go anywhere, they’ll just have to come to you,” he tells Pierrick. “And you can say I told you that.”
Next he phones his neighbor, who confirms that three cars and 10 police officers were are waiting outside his home, and have instructed him to tell Pierrick to hurry up.
8:40am: Pierrick arrives home. The police are waiting for him, accompanied by three DCRI agents. After informing him he is being taken into custody, the agents enter his home and begin examining his computers and hard drives. According to Pierrick, the police search through everything “including through my girlfriend’s underwear, looking for an Anonymous mask.”
Pierrick was held between two police stations, before being brought to a DCRI building in the northwestern suburbs of Paris the next day. He estimates he was interrogated a dozen times. He declined the assistance of a lawyer, considering himself completely innocent of the alleged offenses. He is accused of “interference with the functionality of a data processing system”, and participating in a denial of service (DDOS ) attack, initiated by Anonymous, against the site edf.com.
The DCRI informed him they had found his IP address in the EDF’s log files, and that they knew that his computer had connected to the EDF website on the day of the attack. Pierrick fully acknowledges having visited the site that day, as did tens of thousands of other users, but denies having participated in the denial of service attack. He says he is opposed in principle to that type of activity.
Pierrick is also charged with “conspiracy to interfere with the functionality of a data processing system.” As proof they refer to a flyer posted online, which invited Anonymous to attack edf.com, and mentions the address of Pierrick’s website, irc.lc.
Pierrick asked the DCRI why they had not arrested the head of Facebook, Twitter or French telecoms operator SFR, or any Internet service providers (ISPs), which also allow Anonymous to communicate and access their chat rooms:
If a terrorist uses a highway, you don’t attack the service in charge of the highway! After a while they got fed up, they didn’t want to hear my comparisons.
His website, irc.lc, makes it possible to connect to the chat rooms relayed via the Internet (or IRC) from the web without having to install special software. In reality irc.lc is nothing more than a URL shortener, aggregating “webchats” of this type without hosting them.
After 45 hours of custody, Pierrick was transferred to the Palais de Justice in Paris, where he waited for 15 hours in a prison cell for a judge’s hearing.
Pierrick was charged with the two offenses that he continues to deny, and released under certain conditions. He is forbidden to leave the country, to go on “any networks, spaces or discussion forums dedicated to Anonymous”, or “to engage in the following professional or social activities”:
Provision of any services providing access to the IRC network “AnonOps”.
At 8pm, he was released in the middle of Paris, 400 km from home. Later, after 60 hours in police custody and two interrogations at the DCRI, he closed the page that provided access to the anonops.li chat rooms at the request of the French justice system.
It’s still possible to access the Anonymous chat rooms via the web, but no longer from Pierrick’s homepage. (A bit like banning a bookstore from selling a book, even though no judge has outlawed it, and when that book is available to read in any of the other stores next to it.)
Ironically, just as edf.com was being attacked, irc.lc was shut down. The Colombian government had asked the French Network and Information Security Agency (FNISA, or ANSSI in French, the service in charge of French cyber defense) to close irc.lc on the grounds that it had been used by Anonymous to discuss another attack.
Pierrick contacted the FNISA to explain that he was not responsible for the fact that people go through his homepage to connect to IRC servers used by Anonymous. The FNISA quickly recognized this, offered him an apology and contacted the host to ask him to re-enable access to irc.lc.
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