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Action directe (AD) was a French revolutionary group which committed a series of assassinations and violent attacks in France between 1979 and 1986. Members of Action directe considered themselves libertarian communist who had formed an "urban guerrilla organization". The French government banned the group.[1]



Action directe was set up in 1977 by two other groups, GARI (Groupes d'Action Révolutionnaire Internationalistes, revolutionary internationalist action groups) and NAPAP (Noyaux Armés pour l'Autonomie Populaire, Armed Core Groups for Popular Autonomy), as the "military-political co-ordination of the autonomous movement". In 1979, it was transformed into an "urban guerrilla organization" and carried out violent attacks under the banner of "anti-imperialism" and "proletarian defence." The group was banned by the French government in 1984. In August 1985, Action directe allied itself with the German Red Army Faction.


Action directe carried out some fifty attacks, including a machine gun assault on the employers' federation headquarters on 1 May 1979 as well as attacks on French government buildings, property management agencies, French army buildings, companies in the military-industrial complex, and the state of Israel. They carried out robberies or "proletarian expropriation" actions, and assassinations, killing Engineer General René Audran, the manager of French arms sales, in 1985. They were also accused of Georges Besse's 1986 killing, a murder allegedly justified because he was the then head of the French automaker Renault. However, they denied it during their trial. Besse was also former president of Eurodif nuclear company, in which Iran had a 10% share.


On 21 February 1987, the main Action directe members, Jean-Marc Rouillan, Nathalie Ménigon, Joëlle Aubron, and Georges Cipriani, were arrested. They were later sentenced to life imprisonment. Régis Schleicher had already been arrested in 1984. Joëlle Aubron was released in June 2004 for health reasons and died of lung cancer on 1 March 2006. There is an ongoing campaign by some sections of the French far-left that the Action directe members still imprisoned, who consider themselves political prisoners, should be paroled. In December 2007, Rouillan was allowed a state of "semi-liberty", able to leave prison for extended periods. In September 2008, a Parisian court called for the revoking of this status after he declared in an interview with l’Express that "I remain convinced that armed struggle is necessary at certain moments of the revolutionary process.".[2]

In popular culture

The British TV mini-series Red Fox, made in 1991 and starring John Hurt, Jane Birkin and Brian Cox, was set in France and tells of a British businessman kidnapped by a member of Action directe. (The original novel by Gerald Seymour was set in Italy and involved the Red Brigades.) Ralph Fiennes' character in the 2006 film Land of the Blind mentions Action Directe as an example for a terrorist group whose names sound like rock bands', along with The Weathermen), Black September and Red Army Faction.

See also


  1. ^ "Europe wary of banning parties". BBC News. 28 August 2002. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  2. ^ Le parquet demande la révocation de la semi-liberté de Rouillan, Liberation, 1 October 2008.
    The full quote is :«Il faut clarifier les choses: le processus de lutte armée tel qu’il est né dans l’après-68, dans ce formidable élan d’émancipation, n’existe plus (...) Mais, en tant que communiste, je reste convaincu que la lutte armée est nécessaire à un moment du processus révolutionnaire.»

External links


Georges Cipriani (born 12 April 1950) is a former militant of the group Action directe.

Early Life, Work and Involvement with AD

He was born in Tunis to a working class family, and later immigrated to France. In the late 1960s, he worked as a milling machine operator in the machine tool workshop of the Renault-Billancourt factory. He was a member of the factory committee at the time of the assassination of Gauche prolétarienne militant Pierre Overney on 25 February 1972. For the next 10 years he lived in Germany, returning to France in the early 1980s and becoming a member of Action directe.

Arrest and Imprisonment

Arrested with his accomplices Jean-Marc Rouillan, Joëlle Aubron and Nathalie Ménigonin on 21 February 1987 on a farm in Vitry-aux-Loges (Loiret), Cipriani was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the assassinations of Engineer General René Audran and Georges Besse.

After several years of solitary confinement and partial confinement, Georges Cipriani was committed to the psychiatric hospital of Villejuif during the summer of 1993.

His request for the status of semi-liberty, which would enable him to leave prison for extended periods, was denied on 20 August 2009, before being approved on 14 April 2010.[1].


  1. ^ Action directe : un régime de semi-liberté accordé à Georges Cipriani, Le Monde, 1er avril 2010


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