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Illustration of a satellite
The Galileo satellite project is a European cooperationImage: picture alliance / dpa

WikiLeaks victim

January 18, 2011

WikiLeaks documents published by a Norwegian newspaper have caused a German satellite company CEO his job. Berry Smutny reportedly called a major European project his company is involved in a 'stupid idea.'


The CEO of German satellite company OHB-Technology, Berry Smutny, was fired four days after a WikiLeaks document revealed Smutny's candid comments on the European Galileo satellite project.

On January 13, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten cited the document in a story that published Smutny's comments.

The WikiLeaks document, dated October 2009, detailed conversations between Smutny and US diplomats in Berlin.

Berry Smutny
Smutny denied he made the statementsImage: picture alliance/dpa

"I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests," Smutny was quoted as saying in the document.

French bashing

In a previously leaked diplomatic cable published by Aftenposten, Smutny was also revealed to have called France "an evil empire in stealing technology," and that Germany suffered more from French intellectual property rights espionage than it did from China or Russia.

OHB is one company taking part in Europe's satellite project Galileo, which is seen as a challenge to the American Global Positioning System but has been plagued by problems and cost over-runs.

In the leaked cable, Smutny also called the Galileo project, which is due to come into operation in 2014, a waste of EU-taxpayers' money.

In December, Aftenposten said it had acquired all of WikiLeaks' 250,000 cables and would publish the cables and stories based on them independently of WikiLeaks.

However, the controversial site has only released approximately one percent of the cables that it holds, in conjunction with media outlets in Europe and the United States.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, Reuters, dapd)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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