The leaked data on Scorpene submarine has changed a few hands, after being taken from DCNS by a subcontractor, before reaching the whistleblower who gave it to The Australian newspaper, and will be handed over to the Australian government on Monday, said a report by the journalist who broke the story.
The report by Cameron Stewart also said that the authorities in Australia are aware who the whistleblower is.
“He has not broken any law and the authorities know who he is. He plans to surrender the disk to the government on Monday,” the article said.
The journalist, in a series of tweets, also said that he will release documents related to weapon systems on Monday.
The Indian government has so far maintained the leaked information does not cause any major concern, while analysis of the data is on to ascertain the level of information contained.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the leaked information did not contain data on the weapon systems. Stewart however tweeted calling the statement “wrong” and said: “Will release (self-censored) weapons doc Monday.”
The report in the weekend edition of The Australian meanwhile told the story of how the 22,400 documents from French DCNS reached the newspaper continents away.
According to the report, the information, which has had both India and France in a fix, was delivered to the whistleblower’s mail box.
It also said that the whistleblower’s hope is that this would “spur the (Australia’s Malcolm) Turnbull government and DCNS to step up security to ensure Australia’s $50 billion submarine project does not suffer the same fate”.
“He says he is a whistleblower and maintains that revealing to the world, via The Australian, that this classified data exists in a dangerously uncontrolled form is worthwhile because it will serve Australia’s interests even if it causes an international furore,” said the report.
According to the report, the CD with the documents has been in Australia for more than two years.
The report ruled out the “corporate war angle” that was given by DCNS and said for competitors to strike, Norway would have been a better place than Australia as DCNS is pitching its submarine for the country’s navy.
Stewart wrote in the report: “But it seems that the story behind this leak may be more incompetence than espionage — more Austin Powers than James Bond.”
He wrote quoting sources that the data was removed from DCNS in Paris in 2011 by a former French Navy officer who quit the service in the early 1970s and worked for French defence companies for more than 30 years before becoming a subcontractor to DCNS.
Stewart wrote that the subcontractor had copied some “sensitive data” from DCNS in France, and took it to “a Southeast Asian country”.
The two men worked there, “carrying out unclassified naval defence work”.
According to the report, the “speculation” is that the data on the Scorpene was removed to serve as a reference guide for the former naval officer’s new job.
However, the two men are said to have “fallen out with their employer”, a private company run by a Western businessman, following which they were sacked and not allowed inside the building.
The company refused to give them the data, and sent the data later to its head office in Singapore where it was uploaded on an internet server.
However, while the article in its opening lines implies the CD with the data was delivered to the “whistleblower” some time in April 2013, giving the timeline from Singapore it says the data was uploaded on an internet server on April 18, 2013, where it could have stayed for a few days or a year.
It highlights here the information was vulnerable to hacking and it is now known if any adversaries chanced upon the information at that time.
It was uploaded for “for the person in Sydney who was slated to replace the two sacked French workers”.
Later, the data was sent in a CD to the person in Sydney through post, who realised it contained sensitive information about India’s submarine programme.
As per the report, the receiver transferred the data to an encrypted disk and erased and destroyed the original CD.
The information has been lying with the person since then — for almost two years.