No criminal charges over Clinton's e-mail practice, FBI advises

Mrs Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has admitted it was a mistake to use a private server for government e-mail but says no e-mail she handled was marked classified.
Mrs Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has admitted it was a mistake to use a private server for government e-mail but says no e-mail she handled was marked classified.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WASHINGTON • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said it will not recommend charges over Mrs Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state, although she was found "extremely careless" in handling highly classified information.

Mrs Clinton, who is now in the running for the United States' presidency, has said the use of private e-mail "was allowed" but "I have said many times it was a mistake and if I could go back, I would do it differently". She has said no e-mails that she handled were marked classified at the time.

But by not using a government server, FBI director James Comey said Mrs Clinton increased the risk of her communications being intercepted by hostile nations.

"Any reasonable person in secretary Clinton's position" should have "known that an unclassified system was no place" for the sensitive information she handled as the top US diplomat, he said.

The discovery of Mrs Clinton's e-mail practices grew out of a request by the House Select Committee on Benghazi for communications between Mrs Clinton and other officials surrounding the September 2012 attack on the diplomatic outpost in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

As lawyers for the State Department gathered material, they discovered that she had used a personal, non-government address for her e-mail and routed the messages through a server kept in her home in Chappaqua, New York.

"Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case," Mr Comey told a news conference yesterday.

"Although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to (the) Justice (department) our view that no charges are appropriate in this case," he said.

Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said last Friday that she would accept whatever recommendations that career prosecutors and the FBI director make about whether to bring charges in the case.

Mr Comey said investigators reviewed more than 30,000 e-mails turned over to the agency and "fragments" of others that had been deleted, identifying about 50 in the "secret" or "confidential" categories.

There was no evidence that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee or her staff deleted e-mails with the intention to hide contents, he noted.

Shortly after Mr Comey wrapped up his speech, Mrs Clinton's political rival Donald Trump fired tweets to air his displeasure over the FBI findings.

"FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee wrote.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'No criminal charges over Clinton's e-mail practice, FBI advises'. Print Edition | Subscribe