Premier Laurent Fabius, under pressure from President Francois Mitterrand, ordered the removal of the defense minister and the director of the French intelligence agency Friday in the face of persistent charges that French agents blew up the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand two months ago.
After being ordered by an impatient Mitterrand to do something about the growing scandal, Fabius, in a public letter to the president, announced the departures of Defense Minister Charles Hernu and Admiral Pierre Lacoste, the director of the General Directorate of External Security, as the French intelligence agency is known.
Hernu, who had insisted as recently as Wednesday that no agents were sent to New Zealand to bomb the ship, resigned, presumably at Fabius' request. In his letter of resignation, Hernu said that "I have known for sure since Thursday night that officials of my ministry have hidden the truth from me." Hernu did not say what that truth was.