A French spy who infiltrated Greenpeace and gleaned information that enabled her colleagues to bomb the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 has spoken for the first time.

Tomorrow marks the 32-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the Greenpeace ship.

Just before midnight on July 10, 1985, two bombs ripped gaping holes in the vessel that was set to lead a flotilla to Moruroa atoll to protest against French nuclear testing.

The Rainbow Warrior sank in four minutes.


Portuguese-born crew member, Fernando Pereira, drowned after going to his cabin to retrieve his camera gear.

Rainbow Warrior - 30 years on

The Greenpeace protest vessel Rainbow Warrior being towed north to its last resting place at Matauri Bay, Northland. New Zealand Herald photograph
The Greenpeace protest vessel Rainbow Warrior being towed north to its last resting place at Matauri Bay, Northland. New Zealand Herald photograph

French secret service agents Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur were later arrested and charged over the bombing.

Both pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and spent eight months in jail in New Zealand before being sent to the French atoll of Hao, where they served 17 months of a three-year sentence.

But a third conspirator, Christine Cabon, was never brought to justice.

Cabon infiltrated Greenpeace's Auckland office in April 1985, posing as scientist Frederique Bonlieu.

The then-33-year-old gathered directions, maps, and information for the operation, before leaving the country on May 24.

At the time of the bombing she was in Israel but on the day Auckland police asked Israeli authorities to arrest her, she was tipped off and fled the country.

She now lives in retirement in the French countryside.

Fairfax located Cabon in the small village of Lasseubetat in the southwest of the European nation.

The 66-year-old is a local councillor and is said to be a respected member of the community.

She told Fairfax that she knew the bombing was "a trauma" for New Zealand.

"For the New Zealand government and its population ... it is an exceptional historic event," she said.

"A friendly country attacked them."

She said that New Zealand was a "magnificent" country.

"I have fond memories of New Zealand and of the people I met."

However the country she helped to wrong so severely will get no apology from her.

"Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express myself but I do not intend to go off the reservation," she says.

"It's an ethical question.

"My job was what it was... I entered the army to prevent international and national conflict because my family, originally from Alsace, suffered from the war.

"My career choice is my problem but I ended up [involved in the Rainbow Warrior affair] as a result of my choice.

"I think all military people who serve their countries can find themselves in situations they hadn't wished for."

Cabon said she had nothing to say to the public of New Zealand.

"It would have too many implications," she said.

"There might be some private people I could send a message to, people I met while in New Zealand, but not for the public."