United States state department releases Hillary Clinton's Benghazi emails

  • AFP, Washington
  • |
  • Updated: IST

The US State Department on Friday released the first batch of emails by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, relating to Libya and a 2012 militant attack on the mission in Benghazi.

The emails have stoked fresh controversy since Clinton — now running for president in 2016 — admitted to having used a private server and email address during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2012.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the release would consist 296 emails, out of 30,000 handed over by Clinton.

They have already been provided to a congressional committee probing the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

"These documents span a two-year period from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012 and relate to the security of, and attacks on, the State Department facility in Benghazi and to the United States' diplomatic presence in Libya, including in Benghazi," Harf said in a statement.

"The emails we release today (on Friday) do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks," Harf insisted.

The emails were released on the State Department's website for records released under the Freedom of Information Act, but it was immediately overloaded and difficult to download.

It comes after a judge ordered the State Department to stop dragging its feet and draw up a timetable by Tuesday for handing over the correspondence.

The panel set up by the Republican-controlled Congress is investigating the attack, claiming the US administration covered up the true circumstances of the assault by dozens of heavily armed Al-Qaeda linked militants.

Clinton has 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.

"No one has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do," she said earlier this week.

Paper copies of the emails were handed over by Clinton in December in 12 large boxes labelled with a rough time stamp for the documents inside.

A State Department team has been busy digitizing them and plowing through the emails since March to black out any classified or sensitive information.

Clinton stressed the emails sent on two private addresses (hdr22@clintonemail.com and hrod17@clintonemail.com) when she was  secretary of state belonged to the State Department.

Clinton said she had handed over every email relevant to her job as America's top diplomat and destroyed all the rest, which she maintained were personal, dealing with such matters as her daughter's wedding, her yoga classes and her mother's funeral.

But the revelations have played into long-held Republican criticism that she and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, are unnecessarily secretive.

Clinton is the clear frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination, bidding to make history by becoming the first woman to occupy the Oval Office -- and sliding into a seat once occupied by husband Bill Clinton.

 

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