City based businessman Abhishek Verma was on Friday arrested by the CBI in connection with the Navy war room leak case for his alleged involvement in the leaking of classified military information.
Verma, whose premises were raided on June 23, was summoned to the CBI headquarters here this afternoon for questioning, after which he was placed under arrest, CBI sources said. He will be produced before a court on Saturday.
With this, the number of people arrested in connection with the case has gone up to seven.
The CBI sources said several documents, a computer and other equipment, including his scanner, were seized during searches on Verma's premises. Verma has already denied his involvement in the matter.
After analysing the computer's hard disk and the memory of the scanner, CBI decided to summon Verma for custodial interrogation, the sources said.
Verma was named by Kulbushan Parashar, one of the main accused in the case who is currently in judicial custody. He is also alleged to be a close associate of Ravi Shankaran, another accused and kin of the Navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash. Shankaran has been declared a proclaimed offender by a court here.
The CBI, which registered a case in March, has claimed that the probe has so far revealed that apart from the leak of information from the Navy war room and the Air Defence Directorate, there was prima facie a larger ring of "compromised officials" in various wings of the armed forces and the Defence Ministry, who were giving sensitive information in exchange of gratification.
Senior CBI officials, while justifying the delay in arresting Verma, said the statements of all the accused had to be corroborated and this was done in Verma's case by having the hard disk of his computer examined by the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory.
The CBI registered a case on the basis of information from the defence ministry that three naval officers and an air force officer had "acted in collusion with private persons and retired military officers to conspire to unauthorisedly procure classified documents or information relating to the ministry, the disclosure of which is likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country".
The defence ministry had asked the CBI on February 18 to probe the leak from the naval headquarters.
Besides Parashar, the CBI arrested former IAF official Sambhajee L Surve, Raj Rani Jaiswal, a woman allegedly used as a honey trap, businessman Mukesh Bajaj, former naval officer VK Jha and sacked Navy commander Vinod Rana.
While four persons were chargesheeted by the CBI, Jaiswal and Bajaj were set free on bail after the agency failed to file a chargesheet against them within the stipulated time of 90 days.
The case was registered under various sections of the Official Secrets Act and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.