Indian court frames charges in War Room leak case

August 08, 2014 - 1:32:43 pm

NEW DELHI: A court in New Delhi framed charges on Friday against five people, including three retired naval officers, over the alleged leak of military secrets to help foreign firms clinch Indian defence deals, reports said.

The so-called War Room leak case first hit headlines in 2005 and the information allegedly divulged was mainly commercial and meant for international armament companies eager to win lucrative Indian defence contracts.

The men were put on trial under the Official Secrets Act for conspiring to trade in classified documents and information that could affect the country's security, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.

The five accused, who were arrested in 2006, have pleaded not guilty with the trial set to start on September 8.

The five were present in the court of special Central Bureau of Investigation judge J. P. S. Malik as the charges were read, PTI said.

Four of the men are free on bail while one is in custody.

The lawyer for the defendants said they would "appeal against the order before a superior court".

Cases have also been filed against four other suspects in the case.

Among the accused are a former air force wing commander, two ex-naval commanders and a former naval captain.

Authorities believe two naval officers took early retirement and paid other military officers to "leak" classified information from the tightly guarded Navy War Room in New Delhi.

Media reports say the leaks involved India's multi-billion-dollar purchase of six French "Scorpene" submarines to modernise its ageing fleet.

Indian law bars the use of middlemen or agents in defence purchases.

India is the world's biggest arms importer but the collapse of a series of defence deals during the last decade of rule by the centre-left Congress party has left the military short of key equipment.

In January, India cancelled a deal with Italian-owned AgustaWestland to buy 12 luxury helicopters amid allegations the company paid bribes to win the 556-million-euro ($753-million) contract. (AFP)