Cross Posted from Chevron Toxico
New York, NY – Facing increased financial risk in Latin America, Chevron has launched a corporate espionage campaign designed to intimidate and track the whereabouts of the lead lawyers who recently won an $18 billion judgment for environmental damage against the oil giant in Ecuador’s courts, said the Amazon Defense Coalition.
The purpose of the espionage campaign – being carried out by at least four different investigation firms working for Chevron in the United States and Latin America – is partly to threaten the legal team and partly to obtain confidential information about the strategy of the rainforest communities as they prepare to file collection actions against the oil giant’s assets around the world, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorians.
Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the rainforest communities in Ecuador and himself a target of the campaign, issued an urgent call to human rights organizations and governments worldwide to protect the lawyers and other advocates working on the case.
“Evidence is mounting that the lives and well-being of those working on the case are under an orchestrated attack from Chevron,” said Fajardo. “We are urgently calling on all people of conscience to protect the right of the rainforest communities devastated by Chevron’s contamination to continue to pursue their legal claims free from threats and intimidation.”
A court in February of 2011 found Chevron dumped billions of gallons of toxic water of formation throughout an area the size of Rhode Island, decimating indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancer that threatens thousands of lives. See here and here.
The discovery of the spying operation comes at a delicate time for Chevron CEO John Watson and the company’s star General Counsel, former Bush Administration official, R. Hewitt Pate. Not only is Chevron facing the large liability in Ecuador for what experts consider to be one of the world’s worst environmental disasters, but also Brazil’s government recently sued the company for $11 billion over an offshore oil spill earlier this year.