NEWS

Officer ‘stole’ air force secrets

An air force captain serving at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Athens is under investigation on suspicion of passing on classified arms procurement information to potential contractors, sources said yesterday. Until late yesterday, the ministry had not released any official announcement on the incident, which was revealed following a report in the Karfi newspaper on Saturday. The suspect, only named as a Captain Fournarakis, is being investigated by military authorities. Yesterday, the head of the Athens court of first instance prosecutors’ office, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, ordered a judicial investigation into the matter, on the basis of the Karfi report. The officer is believed to have been transferring classified information – for much of which he lacked the necessary security clearance – from Defense Ministry computers on planned air force procurements, which he then allegedly passed on to arms companies. Ministry sources indicated that the information found in his possession included data on a possible purchase of second-hand F-16 fighters from the Netherlands, as well as air force plans concerning Greece’s putative purchase of the new Eurofighter aircraft. The suspect was reportedly arrested after security personnel at the ministry located a small computer memory stick that someone had dropped on the premises. In an effort to locate the thumb-sized plastic stick’s owner, they accessed its electronic content only to find a series of classified documents. This set off an alarm, which led to the officer being placed under surveillance, while military electronic experts monitored his e-mail. The suspect was found to have been corresponding with arms companies or dealers in Greece and abroad. However, military investigators are also trying to ascertain whether any of the classified material could have fallen into the hands of third countries. An investigation is also under way into whether the suspect had accomplices within the ministry.