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Apple to France: Stop the Crazy Tax Protest Stunts
By Angelique Chrisafis
Posted: February 12, 2018 7:58am PST

Apple has gone to court in Paris to prevent French tax campaigners from staging stunts at its French stores.

A French court will rule later this month on an unusual case brought by the tech firm, which aims to ban the French NGO Attac from its premises.

Attac regularly stages what it insists on calling "good-natured" stunts at French Apple stores to criticize the company's tax affairs.

At the height of the Christmas shopping period last December, about 100 Attac volunteers arrived at Apple's Paris store at Place de l'Opéra. Some danced the conga, others unfurled a huge banner saying "We'll stop when Apple pays" and some brandished huge cardboard cheques in reference to the European commission ruling in August 2016 that the iPhone maker must reimburse the Irish state a record €13bn (£11.5bn) to make up for what it considered to be unpaid taxes over a number of years.

When Apple launched the iPhone X last year, Attac activists in Aix-en-Provence whitewashed the windows of an Apple store to allude to what it called the company's "opaque" tax affairs. The activists did not cover their faces and described their actions as taking place in a kind of party atmosphere

Monday's Paris court standoff has been billed as David v Goliath. Apple submitted court papers insisting that it has "a long tradition of supporting individuals and groups that peacefully express their opinions" but it accuses Attac activists of "vandalizing [Apple] shops and endangering the security of staff and customers."

The company also said its sales had been affected. Apple France has asked the court to ban Attac from its stores and to fine the activists if they break the ban.

Attac has denied vandalism, with its spokesman saying: "We simply went into Apple shops in a festive and good-natured way with music and theatre."

Attac's lawyer Julien Pignon told France Info: "These demands are totally out of proportion with regard to the superior principle of freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate which is guaranteed by French law and the European convention on human rights."

The court had been expected to announce its decision on Monday, but later said it will announce it on 23 February.

© 2018 Guardian Web. Syndicated here under contract with YellowBrix, Inc. All rights reserved.

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