Police probe eBay sale of MI6 camera

LONDON Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:10am BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - The MI6 intelligence service is investigating how a camera holding sensitive information about al Qaeda suspects came to be lost by one of its agents, Hertfordshire Police said on Tuesday.

Media reports said the Nikon digital camera was put up for sale on Internet trading site eBay and sold for just 17 pounds.

Its memory had names of al Qaeda members, fingerprints and suspects' academic records as well as pictures of rocket launchers and missiles, the Sun newspaper reported.

The camera also had detailed information about an MI6 computer system, while the Sun said 46-year-old Abdul al-Hadi al-Iraqi, being held at Guantanamo Bay after being captured by the CIA in 2007, was named in material found on the memory.

"We can confirm we seized a camera after a member of the public reported it," said Hertfordshire Police in a statement after the camera was handed into Hemel Hempstead police station.

"Intelligence services are investigating," the statement added.

The incident is the latest in a series of embarrassing data losses to affect the intelligence services and the government.

On Monday, prosecutors announced that a senior public official who left top secret intelligence assessments of al Qaeda and the security forces in Iraq on a London commuter train is due to face charges under the Official Secrets Act. Last year, a civil servant lost computer discs containing the names, addresses and bank details of 25 million people last year, while in January, the Ministry of Defence said it had lost a laptop containing personal data on 600,000 recruits.

The Home Office said in August that a contractor had lost personal details of every prisoner in England and Wales. National security services rate the current threat of a terrorist attack as "severe," the second-highest state of alert. It says the most significant threat comes from al Qaeda.

(Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Steve Addison)

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