Admiral Mullen Possible Target of Foreign Cyber Intrusion

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Retired admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently surrendered personal computers to the FBI in the course of an ongoing investigation into international cyber activity, sources familiar with the probe tell Time. Mullen is not the target of an inquiry, the sources said, and is assisting the bureau.

“Admiral Mullen, now a private citizen, has responded to very specific requests and is cooperating with an ongoing cyber investigation he has been informed is focused overseas,” Mullen’s office said in an e-mailed statement. Mullen is a member of two governmental advisory boards, one at the CIA, and is a member of the State Department’s investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Agents from an FBI cyber-security unit contacted Mullen in late October or early November, and asked that he surrender his computers in connection with the ongoing inquiry, the sources familiar with the probe said. Mullen agreed, and in early November at least one FBI agent collected the computers at his office at the U.S. Naval Institute, the sources said.

The bureau took two computers belonging to Mullen and his wife because Mullen uses both computers the sources said. The FBI left with the computers, and examined them at a separate facility, the sources said. The agents subsequently returned the computers.

The FBI declined to provide details of the investigation. “Admiral Mullen is helping us,” FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce said. Michael Kortan, the FBI’s assistant director for public affairs, declined to confirm the nature of the investigation except to say that “It’s a serious matter.”

–This post is the product of a joint reporting effort by People and Time.