Wikileaks claims its first scalp

Online whistleblowing site Wikileaks has cost the job of a chief executive at one of Germany’s leading space companies.

OHB-System’s Berry Smutny has had to clean out his desk after he told US diplomats that he thought Europe’s Galileo satellite-navigation project was a “stupid idea” and a waste of taxpayer’s cash.

All that would be fair enough if your company was not part of the consortium that will build Galileo’s first 14 operational spacecraft.

According to the Beeb Smutny denied he ever said anything like that to US diplomats but after reading the cable’s contents, OHB’s board has decided he had better go.

In a statement the OHB’s supervisory board said it had “passed a unanimous resolution to revoke Smutny’s appointment”, adding that it disapproved of the conversations and the quotes attributed to Smutny.  We guess they did not believe him.

Smutny would be unlikely to tell the Americans that the Euro replacement for GPS was a good idea, particularly if he wanted to score any future lucrative defence contracts across the pond. But his other reported comments seemed to push this beyond an attempt to butter up the Americans.

The cable, which was published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten had him saying that Galileo was a stupid idea that primarily serves French and, in particular, French military interests.

He then said that Galileo was “doomed for failure” or would “have to undergo drastic scalebacks for survival”.

Smutny might be right about this. Galileo’s deployment is long overdue and significantly over-budget. But we guess if your outfit is making millions of euro on what might be a cock up it is best that no one finds out about it.