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US officials raise troubling allegations against suspended Iran envoy

Top Republican legislators have asked the State Department to confirm whether a "hostile cyber actor" was able to download classified material improperly stored on Robert Malley's personal devices.

U.S. Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley. Source: Screenshot.
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley. Source: Screenshot.

The Biden administration’s top diplomat for Iran, Robert Malley, has been sidelined for nearly a year while under federal investigation, without any official explanation from the State Department. However, new information about the case is emerging, revealing troubling allegations.

In a letter obtained by The Washington Post, Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) and Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees, respectively, decried the State Department’s lack of transparency and laid out the results of their own inquiry.

“Due to the Department’s evasiveness and lack of transparency, we have worked to glean information from other sources,” Risch and McCaul wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Our own investigations have uncovered the following information and troubling allegations. We ask that you confirm the information we have learned.”

According to the letter, Malley’s security clearance was suspended by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service because he allegedly transferred classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded these documents to his personal cell phone. The Republican lawmakers also claim that a “hostile cyber actor” was able to gain access to Malley’s email and/or phone, obtaining the downloaded information.

The letter cites reports by the Tehran Times, an Iranian state-controlled media outlet, that Malley was under federal investigation for potentially mishandling classified documents. Risch and McCaul assert that the leaks of alleged secret U.S. government documents published by the Tehran Times in August, including one about Biden’s internal diplomatic strategy, are connected to a hack of one of Malley’s personal devices.

“When and how did the cyber actor compromise Mr. Malley’s account?” the letter asks. “Did the compromise of Mr. Malley’s device enable subsequent compromise of other senior officials at the State Department, National Security Council, or other agencies? How did the malign cyber actor utilize the information obtained from Mr. Malley?”

Appointed by President Biden in 2021, Malley was intimately involved in back-channel talks with Iran. Last June, the State Department acknowledged that he had been placed on leave, and subsequent reports revealed that the FBI was also participating in the investigation. However, the Justice Department has not filed any charges or made any public comments on the matter.

In their letter, Risch and McCaul demand that the State Department answer several questions about the investigation, including the number of classified documents involved, to whom they were allegedly transferred and the potential national security implications of the alleged mishandling of classified information.

“The allegations we have been privy to are extremely troubling and demand immediate answers,” the letter concludes. “These allegations have substantial impact on our national security and people should be held accountable swiftly and strongly.”

While mishandling of classified documents can be a felony in some instances, the Justice Department’s approach to such investigations varies greatly case by case. Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were all investigated but never charged. Former President Donald Trump, however, was charged under very different circumstances.

The letter from Risch and McCaul highlights the deep frustration on Capitol Hill about the lack of public information regarding the case. They also inquire as to whether the FBI has recommended charges and if the White House or State Department have weighed in on the matter behind the scenes.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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