By Brian Love
France has asked Google to remove photos of prisons from the internet, including one from which a notorious criminal known as “the jailbreak king” escaped by helicopter this year
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said she had written to the internet search engine to request the removal of sensitive photos, but no action had been taken.
“It’s not normal that photos of security buildings such as our prisons are out there on the internet,” Belloubet said in an interview on RTL radio station.
“I’ve written to Google asking for action to remove (photos of) these penitentiary sites but nothing has happened so far,” she said. “I may have to ask to meet the people I wrote to.”
A Google spokesman said applications such as Google Maps and Google Earth drew on images from external sources.
“We have given our suppliers a list of sensitive locations and asked them to take the necessary steps as soon as possible to conform with the law,” said the spokesman, adding that the list also included nuclear plants and army bases.
The minister was discussing the case of Redoine Faid, whose escape in July from the open courtyard of a jail complex south of Paris drew attention to the absence of anti-helicopter nets and the presence on the web of clear aerial photos of the site.
Faid was recaptured last week, three months after accomplices landed a hijacked helicopter in the yard of Reau prison, hacked their way into an adjacent visitor room with power-grinders to free him, and flew back out.
In a previous escape, Faid, a serial robber jailed for a botched cash-transport truck heist in which a policewoman died, took four wardens hostage and used dynamite to blast his way out of another prison.
Belloubet said Faid, who has declared himself to be on a hunger strike, was now in solitary confinement and banned from receiving visits at his new prison in northern France, of which photos are also readily accessible on the web.
Faid became a notorious semi-celebrity in France after writing a book about his colourful life, describing how he was born into crime in high-rise housing estates of the kind that sprang up around Paris in the 1960s and 1970s.
He has said his life of crime was inspired by blockbuster films such as “Scarface” and “Reservoir Dogs”.
(Reporting By Brian Love; Editing by Luke Baker and Ed Osmond)