Robert Malley. REUTERS./

 – Two Republican lawmakers said they believe the security clearance of Rob Malley, who is on unpaid leave from his post as U.S. special envoy for Iran, was suspended because he allegedly sent classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded them to his personal mobile phone.

Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul did not provide any source for the allegations in a May 6 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter was first reported by the Washington Post and reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Robert Malley, member of the U.S. National Security Council, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, Head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wait to start a meeting at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 29, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool/File Photo

“We understand that Mr. Malley’s security clearance was suspended because he allegedly transferred classified documents to his personal email account and downloaded these documents to his personal cell phone,” said the letter, which gave the most detailed potential public explanation to date for the suspension of Malley’s security clearance.

“It is believed that a hostile cyber actor was able to gain access to his email and/or phone and obtain the downloaded information,” they added, criticizing the Department for not providing more information about Malley’s case and posing 19 questions about it to Blinken.

A State Department spokesperson said Malley remains on leave, adding that “under longstanding policy going back for decades, the Department does not comment on individual security clearances.”

Malley declined to comment on the letter in an emailed response to Reuters.

Appointed soon after U.S. President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Malley had the task of trying to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after then-President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to abandon the pact and reimpose U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

That effort has failed, and the United States and Iran are increasingly at odds on issues from Iran‘s nuclear program to its support for proxy forces across the Middle East and its first direct attack on Israeli territory on April 13.

(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle and Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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