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September 21, 1995

FRANCE’S MOST PRECIOUS NAVAL SECRETS GO MISSING IN TOULON

By CBR Staff Writer

The French press revealed Wednesday that an entire database of highly sensitive naval data, including acoustic signatures of French (and possibly American and British) vessels, ship routes, radar system descriptions and French missile emplacements was stolen from the French Naval Headquarters at Toulon at the end of July. Toulon is the base that controls the movements of French military forces in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Bosnia. In the version by France’s satirical journal Le Canard Enchaine, pirates hacked into the database of acoustic signatures of French and allied aircraft carriers, cruisers and nuclear submarines, while Liberation reported that, in two separate thefts, five personal computers stocked with classified data and 25 binders of complementary information. Liberation said the theft occured in Toulon’s super-secret Centre for Acoustic Interpretation and Recognition. A spokesman for the French armed services first played down the importance of the theft, saying yesterday that it involved a single portable personal computer that contained confidential defence information targeted at training military technicians. But then President Jacques Chirac called a special, unscheduled meeting of his armed forces chiefs, and foreign and defence ministers to discuss the problem. After the second theft, Liberation said both the military police and a Marseilles-based prosecutor specialising in military affairs were brought in to try and identify the thieves. No one has yet been arrested, but Liberation said that one of the suspects might be a former sailor who has business affairs with a former Soviet bloc country. In any case, said one military information specialist, it’s not the first time that something serious has happened at the Arsenal, as the Toulon installation is known.

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