FBI interviews Hillary Clinton aides as e-mail probe advances

Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (right) with aide Huma Abedin.
Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (right) with aide Huma Abedin. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Close aides to Hillary Clinton including longtime confidante Huma Abedin have been interviewed by the FBI as part of its investigation into the ex-secretary of state's use of a private e-mail server, CNN reported on Thursday (May 5).

The interviews, confirmed to the network by US officials briefed on the probe, mark a step forward in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe, which the officials described as nearing its end.

The investigation has focused on the security of the Clinton server and whether classified information was exchanged.

The officials said no date had yet been set for an FBI interview of Mrs Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, but that one was expected in the coming weeks, CNN reported.

Ms Abedin has cooperated with investigators, who have not found evidence that proves Mrs Clinton willfully violated the law, it added.

Mr Bryan Pagliano, former State Department member of staff who reportedly helped set up Mrs Clinton's server and has been granted immunity in the criminal investigation, was also expected to be interviewed.

Spokesmen for the FBI and Justice Department, as well as lawyers for Ms Abedin and Mrs Clinton, declined to comment.

On Wednesday, federal judge Emmet Sullivan said Clinton may be required to testify about her private e-mail system as part of a freedom of information act lawsuit brought by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

It was yet another twist in a long-running e-mail saga that continues to dog Mrs Clinton as she runs for president.

Mrs Clinton's use of a private server for both official and private correspondence first came to light in 2015 during Republican-led congressional investigations into her handling of a militant attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The assault in 2012 left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead.

The FBI has since launched a criminal investigation amid Republican charges that the use of the unsecured system endangered national security.

Mrs Clinton has maintained that none of her e-mails had been marked "classified" when she sent them and, after her own lawyers had removed mails they deemed purely personal, she submitted a 52,000-page document dump to the State Department.

The State Department made the official e-mails public chunk by chunk, and released the final batch in late February.