The Australian journalist, who broke the Scorpene submarine leak story, said on Saturday the leaked material posted online by his newspaper was “just the tip of the iceberg,” cautioning India that the data’s interception by foreign intelligence agencies in its original form could be damaging.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday the revelations were not a “big worry” but India was prepared for the worst.
“The minister’s comments seem to be aimed at calming down concerns in India about sensitive material being available in its uncontrolled form,” journalist Cameron Stewart, 53, told HT from Melbourne.
Six Scorpene submarines are being built in India in collaboration with French shipbuilder DCNS under a Rs 23,562-crore project.
His newspaper, The Australian, redacted sensitive details before uploading around 30 documents on the web — the leaks that detail the contracted parameters and combat capabilities of the Scorpene run into 22,400 pages.
The newspaper is unlikely to publish more material from the leaked files.
He said, “We don’t intend to publish many more documents on the web. The intention was to reveal the story of this serious breach, not to release documents. The few documents we published on the web were to back the story.”
The newspaper reported on Friday that the whistleblower behind the leak plans to hand over the disk to the Australian government on Monday.
As the navy scrambles to assess the potential impact of the leak without access to the massive tranche of documents, defence ministry sources said on Saturday India would activate diplomatic channels to obtain the disk.
Stewart has not read the entire set of 22,400 leaked pages but he has pored over “an awful lot of those documents”.
“No international navy would want such sensitive details to be out in the public domain. I have gone through all the major directories in the documents with the help of an expert,” he said.
India has written to French authorities to probe the leak with urgency and share the findings.
South Block sources said the French company has not made direct contact with the government after the leak.
Have Indian agencies contacted him?
“No one has but even if they did, I will not be in a position to give them any data. The data is not mine, I don’t have a copy of it…I have only accessed it,” he added.