Developing

Ex-US General James Cartwright In Leak Probe

A retired American general is under investigation for allegedly leaking information about a top secret cyber attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Retired Marine, General James "Hoss" Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who served in the Pentagon's upper echelon, has been told he is the target of the inquiry, according to NBC News and the Washington Post.

A "target" is someone a prosecutor or grand jury has substantial evidence linking to a crime and who is likely to be charged.

The Justice Department referred questions to the US attorney's office in Baltimore, where a spokeswoman refused to comment.

The investigation of the leak about the Iran cyber attack is one of a number of national security leak inquiries started by the Obama administration, including ones involving the Associated Press and Fox News.

In June 2012, the New York Times reported that General Cartwright was a crucial player in the cyber operation called Olympic Games, started under President George W Bush.

Mr Bush reportedly advised President Barack Obama to preserve Olympic Games.

According to the Times, Mr Obama ordered the cyber attacks to be speeded up and, in 2010, an attack using a computer virus called Stuxnet temporarily disabled 1,000 centrifuges that the Iranians were using to enrich uranium.

Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe into who leaked the information, and Obama said he had zero tolerance for such leaks. Republicans said senior administration officials had leaked the details to bolster the President's national security credentials during the 2012 campaign.

The New York Times said the general was one of the crucial players who had to break the news to Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden that Stuxnet had, at one point in 2010, accidently become public because it had escaped onto the internet.

After that misfortune, top administration officials met to consider whether the programme had been fatally compromised.

The President asked if the programme should continue, and after hearing the advice of top advisers, decided to proceed.

Mr Cartwright, a four-star general, was cleared in February 2011 of misconduct involving a young female aide after someone anonymously accused him of acting inappropriately during a 2009 overseas trip on which the aide travelled as a military assistant.