New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) Australian investigative journalist Cameron Stewart, who broke the sensational story on the leak of data on Indian Scorpene submarines, has questioned the Indian Navy’s attempt to downplay the leak, saying his newspaper can post all the leaked documents online if India feels they pose no threat.
In an email response to questions from IANS, Stewart, an Associate Editor with The Australian, said the Navy was just trying to do “damage control”.
“The Navy is just trying to control the public relations damage of the leak, so they are trying to play it down. If they claim there is no damage, then maybe we should now put all 22,400 confidential documents on the net,” Stewart told IANS.
“I have gone through the documents in detail with a defence expert (who helped me redact those few we put out in the web) and there is no doubt these documents should never be available in the public arena. If they applied to the Australian Navy, they would be highly classified,” he said.
“This is a major and serious data leak despite the self-interested spin from India and France in trying to play it down.”
On a question on whether the documents were there in the open market, Stewart said: “We don’t know. They were vulnerable on the Internet for some time, so I think (it) is likely they have been taken but I am not in any position to know this.”
The 22,400 pages of information leaked from DCNS, as reported by The Australian, has crucial information on the DCNS-designed Scorpene submarines that are set to form the core of India’s submarine fleet once inducted.
Some of the documents uploaded by The Australian on its website include data on functional description, including the cylindrical and flank array, sonar interception and a number of other details on the boat as well as on noise generated during patrol, attack and snorting (staying submerged but taking in surface air through the snorkel) modes.
The newspaper has redacted crucial information in the documents.
Asked about the source of the document and the leak, Stewart said his next report in The Australian would explain it. He also said the newspaper was not planning to upload more leaked documents “right now”.
The journalist’s comments came as Defence minister Manohar Parrikar again played down the Scorpene leak, saying its a “not big worry”.
But he admitted there were few pockets of concern/ because the ministry was assuming the worst case scenario.
The defence minister said the leaked documents put on the web of ‘The Australian’ newspaper does not include any of the weaponry systems of the Scorpene.
He said the navy had assured him that most of the leaked documents were not of concern.
The Indian Navy has taken up Scorpene document leak matter with French Directorate General of Armament.