British man sent classified US military emails detailing presidential flight paths by mistake

Last updated at 12:09 29 February 2008

A man has received thousands of classified military e-mails - after people confused his website with that of a US air base.

Documents, including information on presidential flight paths, military tactics and passwords, flooded in from around the world to Gary Sinnott's website, when intended for personnel at RAF Mildenhall.

Now, after years of trying to resolve the issue, he has been forced to close down his website, unable to cope with the sheer number of e-mails that arrived in his inbox each day.

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Gary Sinnott

Wrong address: Gary Sinnott has now shut down his email account after being bombarded with US military emails by mistake

A US Hercules transport plane takes off from RAF Mildenhall which is the airbase that the emails were intended for

The mistakes have been made by personnel mistaking for the military website

Mr Sinnott, from Mildenhall in Suffolk, bought the domain in the mid 1990s with the hope of using it to promote the town on the internet, but it was not long before problems surfaced.

He said: "I started receiving e-mails from people at RAF Mildenhall in 2000. It's not uncommon for an email to go astray, but it just continued.

"I was being sent everything from banal chat and jokes, to videos up to 15mb in size. Then I started getting military communications coming from all over the world.

"A lot had some really sensitive information in them. They were just banging in e-mail addresses without checking."

No matter what name was entered before the address, the e-mail would still go to Mr Sinnott.

He said when he reported the emails to officials at RAF Mildenhall, they went "mental".

In a statement, RAF Mildenhall confirmed officials had tried to help Mr Sinnott.

"In November, we confirmed that our base servers blocked any emails going to this site and we sent out a base-wide e-mail advising everyone to use appropriate government email domains and inform family and friends," a spokesman said.

"In 2004, the 100th Communications Squadron advised Mr Sinnott to block unrecognisable addresses from his domain and have an auto-reply sent reminding people of the official Mildenhall domain and blocked his website from access on base." Mr Sinnott said he acted on the advice but some continued to slip through.

He added: "Some people did not react well when I told them they were using the wrong email address. Those most annoyed sold my address to people who send spam. Sometimes, I was getting 7,500 spam emails a week from one person."

In November, Mr Sinnott again spoke to officials at the base, but was told there was "no mechanism in place to forcibly prevent individuals, when in their private capacity, from sending e-mails to a particular address".

Mr Sinnott will relinquish ownership of next month.

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