Data breach exposes more than 250 Afghan interpreters’ details

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Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom, has launched an investigation following the leak of more than 250 Afghan interpreter’s email addresses, profile pictures and contact details.

The breach came following an email sent out by the Ministry of Defence mistakenly copied in Afghans working for British forces. All recipients were able to be seen.

Many of the recipients of the email are still in hiding, and this leak could put them in grave danger.

One man, trained to serve in the Afghan special forces by the UK, has already been executed by the Taliban. His family are now on the run following The UK and US’s evacuation of Afghanistan.

Failings by the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office had led to Afghan allies being “hunted ruthlessly by the Taliban”, he said.

The UK’s Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap), has been in contact with them and are the ones responsible for sending the email. They told remaining Afghan interpreters the team was “doing everything it could to help relocate them.”

“This mistake could cost the life of interpreters, especially for those who are still in Afghanistan,” said one of the remaining interpreters who had worked with British forces.

“Some of the interpreters didn’t notice the mistake and they replied to all the emails already and they explained their situation which is very dangerous. The email contains their profile pictures and contact details.”

The MoD has since issued an apology.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said an investigation had started, looking into what Mr Wallace called an “unacceptable breach”.

“We apologise to everyone impacted by this breach and are working hard to ensure it does not happen again,” she said.

She added that the MoD “takes its information and data handling responsibilities very seriously”.

This is such a distressing, but avoidable, situation which continues to demonstrate the very real and potentially devasting risks associated with information disclosure.