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Lawsuit Alleges Privacy Violation In Petraeus Case

10:54 AM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
Jill Kelley looks out the window of her home as Gen. David H. Petraeus is seen on the television in the background on November 13, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Kelley, who is reported to be involved with the military community at MacDill Air Force Base, reported receiving harassing emails to the FBI, which resulted in an investigation that revealed the sender to be Paula Broadwell, who was found to be having an affair with Gen. David H. Petraeus. (Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images)
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Washington, DC -- The Tampa socialite whose complaints about cyberstalking exposed the affair that brought down David Petraeus filed a lawsuit Monday that accuses federal officials of violating her privacy.

Jill Kelley and her husband, Scott, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia seeking an apology and unspecified damages from what they say were willful leaks by federal officials of false and damaging information about them. Those officials should have been protecting them and their privacy, they say.

"Instead we received highly hurtful and damaging publicity from willful leaks from high-level government officials that were false and defamatory," Jill Kelley said in a statement. "In addition, we also learned that our personal emails were wrongfully searched, and improperly disclosed."

Spokesmen for the FBI and Defense Department had no immediate comment.

Jill Kelley had asked the FBI to investigate e-mails she found threatening. Those e-mails came from Paula Broadwell, who was the biographer of Petraeus, then the CIA director. The two had an extramarital affair that caused Petraeus to step down.

Also implicated in the scandal was John Allen, who as a Marine Corps general had been the No. 2 officer at Central Command in Tampa and who went on to be the top officer in Afghanistan. The Pentagon investigated Allen for "potentially inappropriate" e-mails with Kelley, who had hosted several parties at her Tampa home for military leaders.

Allen, Pentagon officials say, was exonerated by an inspector general's report that found no wrongdoing with the e-mails. However, the military has refused to release the 21-page report, which USA TODAY and other media outlets have requested, saying it would "constitute an unwarranted invasion" of personal privacy rights. Allen, who had been chosen to lead NATO, retired from the military after the matter became public.

USA TODAY appealed the decision on March 4, arguing that releasing the report would serve the public interest by showing how the government determined that Allen had been cleared. The Pentagon has not responded to the paper's appeal.

In the lawsuit, Kelley maintains that government officials, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, are to blame.

"Defendants instead willfully and maliciously thrust the Kelleys into the maw of public scrutiny concerning one of the most widely reported sex scandals to rock the United States government," according to the lawsuit.

Written By:  Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today

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