A French spy convicted of the fatal Rainbow Warrior bombing has hit headlines again, as a finalist in a celebrated wildlife photography contest.

Alain Mafart is a finalist in the Natural History Museum of Britain's prestigious wildlife photographer of the year competition.

An image of a young Japanese macaque in the Jigokudani snow monkey park in Japan was taken by Mafart - now known as Alain Mafart-Renodier.

Mafart was a commander with the French secret service who was jailed for his part in the 1985 bombing.


The Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship, was destroyed in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985, killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira, just before it was due to sail for Mururoa Atoll to protest against French nuclear testing.

Greenpeace NZ spokesman Nick Young said: "It's a cruel irony that Alain Marfart, one of the French military operatives involved in the bombing, is now pursuing his own career in photography and being recognised for it around the world.

"But we prefer to focus our energy on remembering Fernando with fondness, and continuing the work that he was an integral part of. "

Mafart previously had a photo published in an international Greenpeace calendar, creating outrage when his identity was revealed.

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sank on Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985. Photo / Ben Motu
The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sank on Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985. Photo / Ben Motu

Mafart and his colleague Dominique Prieur pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and spent eight months in jail before being sent to the French atoll of Hao, where they served 17 months of a three-year sentence.

In 2014, Greenpeace USA was left red-faced after an image of a watering-hole in southern Africa by the bomber was published in its 2015 promotional calendar.

Greenpeace New Zealand produced its own calendar, independent of the US effort.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said at the time the image's inclusion in the calendar was a "painful mistake".

"It was really the last thing you want to see, a photograph by someone like this who was involved in the bombing of the Warrior actually being in a Greenpeace publication."

Greenpeace USA apologised and said neither its staff nor the publisher realised there was a problem until the calendars had been published.

"It is wrong and upsetting that a picture from Mafart could ever appear anywhere in a Greenpeace publication."