The leak of secret technical data on French submarines designed for the Indian navy was a “malicious act”, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.
“We will use every means at our disposal to learn the truth” in the affair, which came to light last week, Le Drian told reporters.
“Obviously, it was a malicious act,” he added.
The Sydney-based newspaper The Australian said last week it had seen the leaked papers detailing the combat capability of the Scorpene-class subs made by French defence contractor DCNS for the Indian navy.
Variants of the submarine are used by Malaysia and Chile, with Brazil due to deploy the vessels from 2018.
Australia has also tapped DCNS, inking a deal in April worth Aus$50 billion (US $38 billion, 34 billion euros) for the design and construction of its next generation of submarines.
The Australian said the leaked documents totaled 22,400 pages and were marked “Restricted Scorpene India”.
They included thousands of pages on the submarine sensors and thousands more on its communication and navigation systems as well as nearly 500 pages on the torpedo launch system alone.
French prosecutors launched an investigation into the leak on Friday, and DCNS said unspecified “national security authorities” were probing the matter.
The Australian said DCNS implied that the leak may have come from India rather than France.
The daily, however, said the data was thought to have been removed from France in 2011 by a former French naval officer who at the time was a subcontractor for DCNS.
The newspaper said the data was believed to have passed through firms in Southeast Asia before eventually being mailed to a company in Australia.
Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ordered a probe into the newspaper report, saying the documents could have been obtained through hacking.
Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said last week that the leak was “embarrassing” for the DCNS and the Indian navy but had “no bearing on the Australian government’s future submarine program”.