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The White House announced on Thursday (22 September) that it was investigating a cybersecurity breach after a scan of what appeared to be First Lady Michelle Obama's passport was leaked online. Obama's passport was part of a leak of personal emails spanning from February 2015 to July 2016 belonging to a low-level staffer who worked on Hillary Clinton's campaign.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not comment on the validity of the passport and related documents but noted the administration was taking the hacking seriously, Reuters reported. The passport scan included the photo-and-information page, which lists her passport number, place of birth and birthdate.
"We're aware of those media reports, and it is something we're looking into," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference. The Secret Service, which is responsible for the first lady's safety, expressed concern over the leak as well, according to the Telegraph.
Earnest noted that the staffer whose email was allegedly hacked was a contract worker and not a permanent member of the president's staff. "At this point I cannot announce any sort of conclusion that's been reached about the individual or individuals that may have been responsible for the cyber breach that resulted in this information being leaked," he said.
According to Reuters, the leak is the latest batch of files targeting politicians and other political insiders by a group calling itself DC Leaks.
The group previously published personal emails of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who confirmed the emails were authentic. The emails revealed Powell's dislike for Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
DCLeaks claims that it aims to expose the truth "about US decision-making process" and the elements of American political life. While the group claims to be a collection of American hacktivists, cyber security experts and US intelligence officials say they are a front for a hacking operation by the Russian government.