MELBOURNE, Aug. 28 (UPI) — A French shipbuilder plans to seek an injunction to prevent further publication of information contained in 22,400 secret documents about stealth submarines built for India.
Lawyers for DCNS told The Australian the company will seek legal action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales after the documents dated from 2011 allegedly detailing the secret combat capabilities of six Scorpène-class diesel-electric submarines were leaked to newspaper.
The company also wants The Australian to hand over the documents and remove them 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,” says an affidavit by DCNS’s lawyer Justine Munsie.
The Australian said it redacted the most sensitive details before publication.
The classified documents revealed the operational characteristics of a submarine at the frontline of Indian Navy operations. Six French designed Scorpene Class submarines are being built at the Mazgaon docks in Mumbai in a project worth more than $3 billion. The company also won a contract to design Australia’s new $50 billion submarine fleet.
India’s navy says it is working to ensure that the leak doesn’t actually affect the operations of the submarine fleet.
Manohar Parrikar, the Indian defense minister, said “It looks like a case of hacking” but its impact wasn’t clear. The country has launched an investigation.
A former commander of U.S. Pacific fleet Submarine Force warned the leaks would undermine the confidence in the ability of French companies to protect classified information. John Padgett, who is also the president of the U.S. Naval Submarine League, said, “It is never good for an opponent to have your playbook.”
He said “aggressive action” is needed to investigate the leak and France should share the outcome with Australia.
A French public prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation into the data leak and DCNS filed a complaint for breach of trust.