23 May 2015

First set of Clinton emails released

4:11 pm on 23 May 2015

The US State Department has released hundreds of emails - many relating to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya - from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Photo: AFP

The emails were previously provided to a congressional committee.

Ms Clinton has constantly defended her use of the private account since the launch of her presidential campaign.

More of Ms Clinton's emails are set to be released in the coming weeks.

This first batch is just a fraction of the approximately 55,000 emails that the State Department is currently reviewing for release.

From 2009 to 2013, Ms Clinton did not have a government email address, the US State Department has said.

The State Department and Ms Clinton have been subject to intense scrutiny by a congressional committee which is investigating the attack on a US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, during which Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.

"The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during or after the attacks," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement ahead of the release.

However, the chairman of the congressional committee said it was not ready to "reach any investigative conclusions" until it reviews and evaluates other documents and emails from other senior officials.

"These emails continue to reinforce the fact that unresolved questions and issues remain as it relates to Benghazi," chairman Rep Trey Gowdy said.

Ms Clinton spent much of Friday campaigning in New Hampshire, where she said: "I'm glad that the emails are starting to come out. This is something that I've asked to be done."

She stressed that information contained in the emails has been handled appropriately.

The New York Times has reviewed some of the emails ahead of the release and reported that they "appear to back up Mrs. Clinton's previous assertions that she did not receive classified information at her private email address".

It said that many of the emails detail Ms Clinton's concerns following the attack.

They also offer a snapshot of the former first lady's private life, including her radio listening preferences and compliments she received from a colleague regarding a photo in the press.

However, it was also revealed on Friday that at least one of the emails Ms Clinton received has since been classified.

The email, which was forwarded to the former Secretary of State by one of her staff members, relates to reports of people being arrested in connection to the Libya attacks.

In all, 23 words were classified and redacted on Friday from the email originally sent by Bill Roebuck, then the director of the Office of Maghreb Affairs, in November of 2012.

No laws were broken, since the information was not officially classified at the time the email was sent. However, it does show that the private email server was used to receive sensitive information.

The timing for a larger release of emails is not clear. Earlier this week, the US State Department said it would like to release the emails all at once in January 2016.