PARIS — The French defense minister and French military leaders apparently knew of a plot to blow up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand, the authoritative Paris newspaper Le Monde reported today.
It said the mining of the vessel, in which a Portuguese photographer was killed, was carried out by a previously unmentioned "third team" of two French combat frogmen who escaped unnoticed from New Zealand.
The newspaper said Defense Minister Charles Hernu; Gen. Jeannou Lacaze, then armed forces chief of staff, and Gen. Jean Saulnier, then President Francois Mitterrand's personal military adviser, "apparently were in the know, having either authorized . . . (or) allowed to take place . . . an operation conceived to prevent the ecologist campaign and send a warning to Greenpeace."
The Ministry of Defense, asked to comment on the story, would say only that "everything is and will be done to reveal the truth."