"The focus now is on this being a U.S. leak, as many of the documents were only in U.S. hands," Michael Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official said. [Representational image] ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. officials are working to identify the source of a leak after classified documents with information about everything from Israel's Mossad spy agency to Ukraine's air defenses surfaced online. Some analysts have speculated that the source may be an American.

According to officials, the documents' wide range of topics, which include the conflict in Ukraine, China, the Middle East, and Africa, indicate that an American rather than an ally may have leaked them.

"The focus now is on this being a U.S. leak, as many of the documents were only in U.S. hands," Michael Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official, told Reuters in an interview.

The leak is considered to be one of the most serious security breaches since more than 700,000 documents, videos, and diplomatic cables appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2013.

According to U.S. officials, the investigation is still in its early stages, and those in charge have not ruled out the possibility that pro-Russian elements were behind the leak.

Requests for comment to the Kremlin and the Russian embassy in Washington went unanswered.

Following the revelation of the leak, Reuters has examined more than 50 documents with the classifications "Secret" and "Top Secret," which originally surfaced on social media platforms like Discord and 4Chan last month.

Although some of the documents were posted weeks earlier, the New York Times broke the news of their existence on Friday, Apr. 7.

The authenticity of the documents has not been independently confirmed by Reuters. Some figures of Ukrainian battlefield casualties that were provided seemed to have been changed to reduce Russian losses.

It is unclear why at least one contains top-secret material but is classed as unclassified. There are several documents that are stamped "NOFORN," which means that foreign nationals cannot receive them.

Two U.S. officials told Reuters on Sunday that they have not ruled out that the documents may have been doctored to mislead investigators as to their origin or to disseminate false information that may harm U.S. security interests.

The White House referred questions to the Pentagon.

In a statement on Sunday, Apr. 9, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the validity of the photographed documents that "appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material."

The Pentagon has referred the issue to the Department of Justice, which has opened a criminal investigation.

One of the documents, dated Feb. 23 and marked "Secret," outlines in detail how Ukraine's S-300 air defense systems would be depleted by May 2 at the current usage rate.

Such securely held intelligence could prove very useful to Russian forces, thus Ukraine's president and senior security officials reportedly gathered on Friday to discuss methods to stop leaks.

Another document, designated "Top Secret" and from a CIA Intel update dated Mar. 1, claims that the Israeli Mossad intelligence service encouraged demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposals to tighten restrictions on the Supreme Court.

According to the document, the United States learned about this through signals intelligence, indicating that it may have spied on one of its most important Middle Eastern friends.

In a statement on Sunday, Netanyahu's office described the assertion as "mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever."

The contents of private discussions between senior South Korean officials about American pressure on Seoul to assist in providing weapons to Ukraine and Seoul's stance of not doing so were provided in another document.

An official from the South Korean presidential office stated on Sunday that the nation was aware of news reports on the documents' leak and that it intended to talk with Washington about "issues raised."

The spying allegations were viewed with "strong regret" by South Korea's opposition lawmakers, who described them as a flagrant breach of the nation's sovereignty and a significant security blunder on the part of the Yoon Suk Yeol government.

"We strongly demand a thorough investigation and urge that similar incidents do not occur," the lawmakers of the Democratic Party said in a joint statement.

The Pentagon has not commented on any specific documents' contents, including the alleged spying on allies.

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, two U.S. officials said that although the Pentagon and intelligence agencies were concerned about the leak, the documents reflected a snapshot in time from more than a month ago rather than more recent assessments.

The two individuals claimed that the military and intelligence organizations were reviewing their internal sharing of intelligence procedures.

One of the officials who spoke to Reuters said that investigators are examining the reasons why a U.S. official or group of officials may leak such sensitive information.

According to the official, investigators were considering four or five scenarios, ranging from a disgruntled employee to an insider threat intentionally attempting to harm U.S. national security interests.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.