Navy officer among five arrested by CBI for leaking confidential info about submarine project

Navy officer among five arrested by CBI for leaking confidential info about submarine project

New Delhi: The CBI has arrested five persons including a commander-rank Navy officer for allegedly leaking confidential information related to an ongoing submarines project in return for illegal gratification.

Besides the officer, two retired navy personnel and as many private persons were taken into custody under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act after the agency initiated action last month, the officials said.

So far, the agency has conducted searches at 19 locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam among others from where important documents and digital evidence have been seized and are being examined, they said.

It is alleged that the commander, has been serving at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai, had discussed crucial details about the ongoing modernisation project of Kilo-class submarines with the two retired officers for alleged illegal gratification, they said.

The Anti-Corruption Unit of the agency, which handles sensitive and high profile corruption cases, was tasked to unearth the leakage of information following which the operation was started, they said.

The unit has questioned several other officers and ex-servicemen who were in regular touch with the arrested officer and retired personnel, they said.

The CBI is conducting a forensic analysis of digital products used by the officer to understand if the information had fallen into the hands of people with vested interests, they said.

"Investigation related to alleged information leak of administrative and commercial nature being with some unauthorised personnel has come to light and is being investigated by appropriate government agency," the Navy said in a statement

The investigation by the agency with complete support of the Indian Navy is in progress, it said.

An internal inquiry by the Navy is also being progressed, it said.

Sources said the Navy has appointed a high-level inquiry panel headed by a Vice Admiral to examine how information was leaked and to recommend corrective measures. The inquiry committee comprises a rear admiral as well among others, they said.

Man with Pak links held from Godhra

A man from Godhra in Gujarat's Panchmahal district was arrested in connection with the Indian Navy espionage case in a joint operation carried out by the Counter Intelligence Cell of Andhra Pradesh police and Gujarat police.

Altaf Hussain Harun Ghanchi was arrested late Monday night by the joint teams of Andhra Pradesh police and the Special Operations Group (SOG) and Local Crime Branch (LCB) of Panchmahal police from Godhra's Mohmmadi Mohalla, the police said.

The Andhra Pradesh police on Tuesday got the transit remand of the accused from a court in Godhra, Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Leena Patil said.

Before the arrest, the police carried out raids at five-six different localities in Godhra on Monday and detained a few suspects, seizing and examining mobile phones, SIM cards and other gadgets, a Panchmahal police release informed.

"After questioning the suspects, the Andhra Pradesh police finally arrested Ghanchi at around 11 pm on Monday. Ghanchi is accused of indulging in anti-national activities and he used SIM cards of different mobile companies to get OTPs of WhatsApp accounts which he sent to his 'masters' in Pakistan to allow them to operate Indian WhatsApp accounts from Pakistan," an official said.

The WhatsApp accounts were then used to "honey-trap" members of the Indian Navy, the release said, adding that Ghanchi had visited Pakistan in 2016 where he came in contact with elements involved in terror activities.

The case relates to an international espionage racket in which Pakistan-based spies recruited agents in India to collect sensitive and classified information on locations and movement of Indian naval ships and submarines, as well as other defence establishments.

Investigation revealed a few Navy personnel came in contact with Pakistani agents through social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, among others, and some of them shared classified information for which money was deposited in their bank accounts through ISI's Indian associates who had business interests in Pakistan.

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