Military emails intended for the Pentagon were sent to Russian ally Mali because of a typing error.
The Ministry of Defence(MoD) said that it was investigating after the British newspaper The Times reported government officials emailed “state secrets” to the West African nation with close ties to the Kremlin.
The emails were supposed to go to the US military, which uses a domain name .mil, but were accidentally sent to Mali, whose domain name is a similar-looking .ml, suggesting a typing error was made.
Contradicting The Times report, the MoD said in a tweet that the emails in question were not classified “at secret or above.” It said fewer than 20 emails were sent to an “incorrect domain” and described them as “routine.”
The MoD said it was “confident there was no breach of operational security or disclosure of technical data.”
“We have opened an investigation after a small number of emails were mistakenly forwarded to an incorrect email domain,” an MoD spokesperson said in a statement shared with the media.
The MoD further downplayed the significance of the incident, adding that “all sensitive information is shared on systems designed to minimise the risk of misdirection,” but said it was taking the episode seriously.
"The MoD constantly reviews its processes and is currently undertaking a program of work to improve information management, data-loss prevention, and the control of sensitive information,” the spokesperson said.
Last week, the Financial Times reported that millions of US military emails had been misdirected to Mali because of the same “typo leak.” Despite repeated warnings over a decade, a “steady flow” of email traffic continued to the .ml domain, it said.
Some of these emails are believed to have contained sensitive information, including diplomatic documents, tax returns, passwords, and the travel details of top officers.
Mali has been a close Moscow ally since a 2021 coup, which saw the Russian mercenary group Wagner deployed to the country.
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