David Petraeus, the former CIA director, could face criminal charges, according to reports. Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA

The Guardian

The US justice department is reported to be weighing up criminal charges against David Petraeus stemming from an investigation of whether the former CIA director gave a lover access to classified information.

The New York Times on Friday quoted an unnamed official as saying prosecutors had recommended felony charges against the former general, who quit his CIA post in 2012 after admitting he had an affair with Paula Broadwell, an army reserve officer, while she was writing his biography.

The Associated Press later similarly reported that charges were being considered, quoting its own confidential source.

Federal investigators have been looking into whether Petraeus provided classified information to his biographer. A lawyer for Petraeus declined to comment on Friday night, as did the justice department and the FBI.

The justice department investigation has focused on whether Petraeus gave Broadwell access to his CIA email account and other highly classified information.

A recommendation to prosecute would leave the US attorney general, Eric Holder, with a decision to make on whether to seek an indictment against Petraeus, one of the leading US military commanders in recent times, having served as commander of American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Times reported that Petraeus had indicated to the justice department he was not interested in a plea deal that would enable him to avoid a trial. Petraeus has said he did not provide classified information to Broadwell.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, a leading Republican voice on national security issues and an ally of Petraeus, in December sent a letter to Holder expressing concern about the justice department’s handling of the investigation.

“I cannot ignore the broader concerns raised by the fact that this investigation apparently remains unresolved nearly two years later and that the only information that has come to light is through leaks by unnamed sources within the US intelligence community with knowledge of the matter,” McCain wrote.

An FBI spokesman declined comment on the Times report.

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