Following an argument among users of the War Thunder forum, there was an alleged leak of classified documents regarding the Leclerc main battle tank.
The team at TechRaptor reports that the forums posts associated with the leak of the classified documents have since been removed. A warning from the site’s moderators to avoid leaking critical information was also posted.
In a report from the UK Defence Journal, it was revealed that the alleged leak of classified tank specs occurred over an “argument between users over how the French Leclerc tank was portrayed in the game.” The argument started in a thread titled “Leclerc S1 vs S2.”
Following the censoring of the classified information, forum moderator JagdEnte wrote: “Guys [it’s] not [funny] to leak classified Documents of modern equipment you put the lives of many [at] stake who work daily with the Vehicles!”
“Keep in [mind] that those documents will be deleted immediately alongside sanctions. Thanks for reading!” he JagdEnte added.
Following the warning from JagdEnte, Community Manager Smin1080p posted another warning to the users of the forum:
“Put simply, we will not handle, pass, or allow any form of classified [documentation/source] and we will follow any legal procedure that follows said documentation. Unless clear [authoritative] approval is posted that the source is not classified, we will treat it like it is and act on it as such with the necessary process as per any legal perimeters or requirements.”
With the information now redacted, it’s still unclear how the French government may react to the incident. The country has strict laws for the mishandling of classified documents and other information. If authorities attempt to find the user who broke the law, they could face fines of up to €100,000. That’s a hefty potential fine for arguing over a game that is free to play.
Not The First Time
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a user has taken to the War Thunder forums with classified military documentation while discussing war-based video games. In early 2021 a Challenger 2 commander uploaded classified specs regarding the main battle tank. That information was immediately reported to the owners of the forum, Gaijin Entertainment, by the UK Ministry of Defence.
When the original breach occurred the Challenger 2 documentation remained on the site for some time before it was confirmed by the UK Ministry of Defence. Following removal of the still-classified information, forum Senior Technical Moderator “Templar_” wrote:
“We have written confirmation from [the UK Ministry of Defence] that this document remains classified… By continuing to disseminate it you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offense which can carry up to a [14-year] prison sentence if prosecuted. Of this you are already aware, as a service person, you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take. Every time you post this you place us (International representatives of Gaijin), especially any UK citizens, in hot water as the warning so helpfully states that unauthorized retention of a protected document is an offense.”
It is also believed that the original poster used a fake “unclassified” stamp on the documentation they provided, a move that is also illegal.