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Apple asks court to ban French NGO from its shops

An iPhone on show at Hédé-Bazouges, western France. AFP

Tech giant Apple has asked a French court to ban an NGO from its shops after its members burst into outlets to stage protests about its tax payment policy.

France's Attac campaign on Thursday accused Apple and French bank BNP of trying to "gag" it because the companies have launched legal action in response to protests in which the NGO's activists accused the companies of tax dodging.

Earlier it emerged that the US-based company last month filed an emergency suit claiming that the protests represent an "imminent risk to Apple, its employees and its customers", as well as causing it commercial harm.

Attac activists disrupted the French launch of the iPhone X on 3 November at shops in Paris and the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence and again swarmed into a shop in Paris calling on the company to "pay your taxes" on 2 December.

The organisation has been summoned to court on 12 February in relation to the case, an Attac statement said on Thursday.

Attac member Nicole Briend has been summoned to appear in court on another southern town, Carpentras, on 6 February, over an "empty chairs" protest at a BNP premises in an effort to draw attention to the bank's alleged role in facilitating tax evasion, the statement said.

The group says that its demonstrations are "symbolic, non-violent" and cause no damage to property.

"These two cases follow the same logic: to try to gag Attac and prevent us carrying out new citizens' actions to denounce tax evasion by multinationals," Attac spokesman Dominique Plihon is quoted as saying in the statement.

Apple's French management met Attac representatives on 18 December to ask them to stop their protests on the grounds of security.