The US released 296 emails Hillary Clinton received on her personal phone, some relating to a 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Libya. At FBI request, the State Department heavily redacted one tied to Benghazi.
After months of speculation, and an appeal from Hillary Rodham Clinton to hurry up and publish the mails she received and sent from a private server while Secretary of State, the State Deparment released an initial batch of correspondence on Friday.
A total of 296 of Clinton's emails to the public on its Freedom of Information Act sub-site on Friday (http://foia.state.gov/SEARCH/RESULTS.ASPX?COLLECTION=CLINTON_EMAIL).
Clinton had handed over about 30,000 emails
The controversy started with the disclosure in March that Clinton used a private email account exclusively for all official and private communications while she was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
The emails Clinton received on her phone raised questions about transparency, technical security and the handling of sensitive mails - not to mention their compromising effect on a lead hopeful for the Democrat presidential nomination for 2016.
Clinton had said she used her own server and email address for "convenience" and has turned over about 30,000 emails, amounting to some 55,000 pages to the State Department, the news agency AFP reported.
She also said earlier this week: "No one has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do."
Several newspapers and other media outlets as well as Republicans in Congress want to examine the emails as her years of service come under the microscope of presidential campaign politics.
Benghazi in particular focus
Critics were also particularly keen to see any correspendence relating to the June 18, 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stephens was killed, among others.
Friday's tranche covered two years, from January 1, 2011 to the end of 2012, including the Benghazi attack and its aftermath.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf had said in a statement."The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during or after the attacks."
State Department redacts one email at FBI request
One email on the Benghazi attack was redacted, with 23 words in it upgraded to "secret" from unclassified. The email in question, forwarded to Clinton by her deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, relates to reports of arrests in Libya of possible suspects in the attack in which four Americans were killed. The email was initially sent by William V. Roebuck saying that the Libyan police have arrested several people who may or may not be in connection with the attack. The majority of the short mail could not be read.
Because the information was not classified at the time the email was sent, no laws were violated. According to the news agency AP, Friday's redaction shows that Clinton received sensitive information on her unsecured personal server.
Clinton herself, campaigning in New Hampshire on Friday, said that she was aware of the FBI's desire to classify some material in some of the mails, "but that doesn't change the fact all of the information in the emails was handled appropriately."
ra/msh (AFP, AP)