Thales exec denies stealing South Korean secrets

13th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

SEOUL, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - The head of the South Korean office of French defence company Thales denied obtaining military secrets at his trial in the central city of Daejeon Thursday, Yonhap news agency said.

SEOUL, April 13, 2006 (AFP) - The head of the South Korean office of French defence company Thales denied obtaining military secrets at his trial in the central city of Daejeon Thursday, Yonhap news agency said.

Bernard Favre d'Echallens was charged last month with obtaining classified documents concerning radar equipment for the South Korean Navy.

Prosecutors said he obtained the information through a Korean consultant who was a former official of South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) in Daejon.

The consultant, identified only as Park, and a researcher at the institute have also been charged with offences against national security.

"I only conveyed the consulting results from the consultant, Mr. Park, to the Thales headquarters but I never attempted to induce (Park) or conspired with him to obtain classified information," Favre d'Echallens told the court, according to Yonhap.

Thales, a defence and electronics company that is one-third owned by the French government, has denied any wrongdoing. It was among international defence firms expected to bid for a contract to sell a radar system for 24 frigates which South Korea plans to build by 2020.

Park, also appearing in court, said the information he conveyed to Thales had already been published. "The information had already been made public and it did not amount to military secrets," he said.

The researcher, identified as Lee, said the information he delivered to Park was not classified.

The ADD is a state-funded research group developing radar systems for South Korea's new generation of warships.

If the court upholds both counts against the Frenchman he could be sentenced to a maximum 15 years in jail.

The case was a first in South Korea in which military secrets were allegedly leaked to a foreign arms dealer.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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