At the request of the FBI, the US State Department has suspended its plans for an internal review of whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton properly handled classified material when using her private email server.
Clinton, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, has apologized for using a private email server for official business while in office from 2009 to 2013. While Clinton insists she did nothing wrong, the FBI is probing the arrangement.
On January 29, the State Department said 22 emails sent or received by Clinton had been upgraded to top secret at the request US intelligence agencies and would not be made public. Thousands of Clinton's emails have been released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by VICE News.
The State Department said it would conduct an internal review on whether the information in the emails was classified at the time it passed through Clinton's private server in her New York home. The State Department consulted the FBI about this in February, and in March the law enforcement agency asked the State Department to halt its inquiry.
"The FBI communicated to us that we should follow our standard practice, which is to put our internal review on hold while there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation," State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters on Friday.
"The internal review is on hold, pending completion of the FBI's work," she added." We'll reassess next steps after the FBI's work is complete."
A State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said only "administrative work" had been on its review, and that it was waiting for a response from the FBI.
"It took a little bit of time for the FBI to respond to our request for advice and in the interim we did not pursue the review out of prudence," said the official, who declined further comment on the State Department review.
The government forbids handling of classified information, which may or may not be marked that way, outside secure government-controlled channels, and sometimes prosecutes people who remove it from such channels. The government classifies information as top secret if it deems a leak could cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security.
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