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Clinton emails on Benghazi attack released to public

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Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address at Columbia University, in New York, April 29, 2015/AFP

Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address at Columbia University, in New York, April 29, 2015/AFP

WASHINGTON, United States, May 23 – Hundreds of emails by former top US diplomat Hillary Clinton were released by the State Department Friday, seeking to quell a lingering political row about a deadly 2012 attack on a US mission in Libya.

The emails have stoked fresh controversy since Clinton – who is now running for president – admitted to using a private server and email address during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to early 2013.

She has also come under fire from Republicans for the Department’s handling of a militant attack on the US mission in Benghazi in eastern Libya on September 11, 2012 amid allegations of a cover-up of the facts.

“I’m glad the emails are starting to come out. This is something that I’ve asked to be done as you know for a long time,” Clinton said at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

And she insisted she had released all the emails that had any “government relationship.”

Both issues are likely to stalk Clinton as she bids to become the first woman to occupy the Oval Office in the 2016 elections, hoping to slide into the seat once held by her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

A total of 296 emails – out of a trove of 30,000 – sent or received by Clinton were released Friday and uploaded onto a State Department website, which promptly crashed under the volume of traffic.

None appeared to contain anything potentially damaging to Clinton as she pursues her White House bid, although some have been heavily redacted.

Some were long memos from a long-time Clinton family friend and advisor, Sidney Blumenthal, using information from “sensitive sources” with access to Libyan officials.

Initially, Blumenthal said then Libyan president Mohammed Megaryef had been told the attacks were “inspired by what many devout Libyans viewed as a sacrilegious Internet video.”

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But only hours later on September 12, he sent another long email marked “just in” from his mobile phone.

“Libyan security officials believe that the attack was carried out by forces of the Islamist militia group calling itself the Ansar al-Sharia brigade; working out of camps in the eastern suburbs of Benghazi,” it stated.

Clinton forwarded the email from her account to trusted foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan, saying: “We should get this around asap.” Sullivan replied: “Will do.”

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