The US State Department has, for the first time, conceded that seven email chains on Hillary Clinton’s home server contain top secret information.
Controversy over the server, which Clinton used for work as Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013, has dogged her campaign to become president.
The emails are being withheld from the public, as others are released under a federal court order.
“The State Department will be denying in full seven email chains, found in 22 documents representing 37 pages,” said John Kirby, US State Department spokesperson.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information. These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent.”
With just days before the Iowa caucuses – when the first votes are cast for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees – the revelation’s reigniting criticism that Clinton made highly sensitive government secrets vulnerable to attackers.
The government forbids the handling of classified information outside secure government-controlled channels.
“Hillary Clinton put some of the highest or sensitive intelligence informations on a private server because maybe she thinks she’s above the law or maybe she just wanted the convenience of being able to read that stuff on her Blackberry. This is unacceptable, this is a disqualifier,” said Marco Rubio, Republican presidential contender.
The Clinton campaign is downplaying the announcement, saying it’s an example of “bureaucratic infighting.” It firmly opposes the decision to completely block the release of the emails, it said in a statement.