Scorpene leak: French firm takes newspaper to court

RSTV Bureau
File photo of Scorpene class submarine.  Courtesy: CC BY-SA 3.0

File photo of Scorpene class submarine.
Courtesy: CC BY-SA 3.0

French defence firm DCNS has approached the Supreme Court in Australia in the Scorpene leak case. The firm has sought to stop ‘The Australian’ newspaper from further publishing the leaked documents of India’s Scorpene submarine project.

The DCNS has also moved court so that the newspaper not only hands over the documents in its possession, but also removes the published content from its website.

“The publication of this highly valuable document causes a direct harm to DCNS and its customer in terms of spread of sensitive and restricted information, image and reputation,” The Australian quoted an affidavit by DCNS lawyer Justine Munsie.

The newspaper had said that it will publish more documents regarding the weapons system of the submarine.

The move by DCNS comes after a former commander of US Pacific fleet Submarine Force warned that the leaks would undermine the confidence in the ability of French companies to protect classified information.

Rear Admiral (Retd) John Padgett, who is also the president of the US Naval Submarine League, had said that aggressive action needed to be taken to probe the leak and that France should share the outcome with Australia.

Over 22,000 pages of top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with a French company have been leaked.

The secret data included details of the capabilities of SM39 anti-ship missile expected to be used on the Scorpene and also classified information about the number of targets the missile was capable of processing.

While explaining the implications of the leak, Admiral Padgett had said, “It is never good for an opponent to have your playbook.”

“As a member of NATO, the French government and French military demonstrate that they enforce effective security controls and have a solid reputation with their allies,” he added.

He said the investigation had to determine exactly how the breach had occurred and called for “aggressive action” to correct deficient security controls.

The DCNS has also won a contract to design Australia’s new $50 billion submarine fleet.

(With inputs from agencies)